IRVING, Texas – The last time Orlando Scandrick played Peyton Manning, he picked off the star quarterback and returned it for a touchdown in a 38-35 win against the Colts.
Scandrick's reaction to that victory might be different from most corners to leave a game against Manning with a victory and one of four interceptions on the day.
"They scored 35 points on us," Scandrick said. "I don't want to trade four interceptions for 35 points."
Scandrick is rarely satisfied at his position. As head coach Jason Garrett would say, he always seems to play with a chip on his shoulder, and it's worked for Scandrick in his sixth year in the league. He's played well enough through the early portion of the season to now earn a starting job.
The Cowboys need him to be at his best this week against Manning and Wes Welker, who will line up on him in the slot. The shifty receiver was held to just 45 receiving yards the last time he played Scandrick and the Cowboys while with New England in 2011, though he did add a touchdown reception.
"I think I competed and battled the whole way that game," Scandrick said. "It's a great challenge for me. I look forward to these kinds of games and these kinds of challenges. It's going to be another great challenge this Sunday evening."
If Scandrick can pick off Manning again, it would be the first time any corner has done so this season. But he doesn't need an interception to manage a strong performance. If Scandrick holds Welker in check, consider that a job well done. There's probably no player the Cowboys would rather have going against the slot star than Scandrick, who's been tight in coverage all year.
Scandrick said he respects Welker, along with the other receivers in Denver and the future Hall of Famer throwing them passes, but he also believes he's up to the challenge.
"You've just got to trust yourself," Scandrick said. "You've got to have an aura about yourself. I just feel like I carry an aura about myself. I'm harder on myself than anybody else. You've just got to take something, whatever motivates you, and just continue to ride it.
"I've always been confident. It's definitely a mindset. It was a learning curve for me. I talked to Morris (Claiborne) and talked to him all the time, me and Brandon (Carr) both talk to him, and I think the first four years of my career was highs and lows. It was up and down, up and down, and it's a learning curve." [embedded_ad]
Claiborne's experiencing all of what Scandrick's referring to in his second year in the league. But despite Claiborne's rough outing against the Chargers, Scandrick's nowhere near ready to give up on the former first-round pick.
"I think once the draft is over and once you're put on your team, it's not like they're writing it up, like, 'Oh, he's the sixth overall pick, we're not going to throw the ball at him,'" Scandrick said, "or, 'Oh, he's the sixth overall pick, he's just going to become a Pro Bowler.' I think the expectations are high on him because he has great athletic ability. It's just going to take him a little time. He's going through a rough patch in his career, but I'm so confident in him, and I continue to talk to him. I think his talent is too good for him not to mature."
Scandrick said there are very few elite corners who can make the transition quickly and go out and pick off five passes in a season. He only had one interception through his first two years, the same amount Claiborne has now.
He reiterated how much he supports Claiborne, who's had his issues in coverage in recent weeks.
"You've got to remain confident and just go out and hone in on your craft and continue to get better every day," Scandrick said. "I was fortunate enough to play with Terence Newman, a guy who's still playing and still making plays. Terence would always tell me if you haven't had a bad game, you haven't played enough games. It just happens."
Those bad games haven't come for Scandrick so far this season, which is why the Cowboys moved him up the depth chart. Scandrick's currently fourth on the team in tackles and also has a sack and two passes defended.
The Cowboys will need to get all they can out of Scandrick, Claiborne and Carr to stop the Broncos' offense from going off.
"We're just trying to win a football game," Scandrick said. "It's the next football game. It just so happens we're going against one of the greatest players to ever play in the National Football League, and definitely one of the greatest quarterbacks, if not the greatest quarterback, to ever play."