IRVING, Texas – As much of the focus remains on DeMarco Murray's surgically repaired hand and his potential return to game action, the Cowboys have a much bigger issue on their hands in Andrew Luck.
"Great football player. Was great in college, everybody loved him coming out, picked appropriately as the No. 1 player taken in the draft and stepped in right away," said Jason Garrett. "He has all the right intangibles and has done an outstanding job up to this point in his career."
A bit understated for a third-year quarterback who leads the NFL with 4,492 passing yards and attempts with 578. Not to mention he can run too. Luck has toted the pigskin for 268 yards at nearly five yards a pop. So what is most impressive about Luck's arsenal?
"Everything," said Cowboys defensive lineman Jeremy Mincey. "He's the complete package as a quarterback. He's a fierce competitor and he's definitely hard to bring down. He's the leading passer in the league right?"
He's lethal down field and that's where the Cowboys secondary has struggled this season. Dallas gives up 250 yards per contest through the air and are among the league's worst in allowing explosive plays, making this arguably the toughest game of the season.
"It's exciting because it's a challenge," cornerback Tyler Patmon said. "We know they're the first ranked passing team in the league…Those guys are explosive receivers. We have to do our job and limit them to short yardage catches and do our best to stay on top."
No matter where you look, Andrew Luck has options to carve up opposing defenses, in guys like wide receivers T.Y. Hilton, Hakeem Nicks, Donte Moncrief, tight end Coby Fleener and let's not forget the ageless veteran Reggie Wayne.
The Colts throw the ball to the tune of nearly 311 yards per game and score at an alarming rate of 30 points a contest. Andrew Luck may only be playing in his third full season as an NFL quarterback, but he's definitely got the Cowboys defense attention.
"He's a beast. He's one of the better quarterbacks in the league," Nick Hayden said. "We just gotta get after him up front like we did last week. Gotta keep it going and keep the sacks coming."
While Luck has put up MVP-type numbers this season, his offense has been held below its season average of 30 points a game the last two times out and he knows an improved Dallas defense could make it three in a row.
You don't see them making mistakes. I think they try the patience of the opposing offense and you need to be on our P's and Q's and not get behind the eight ball," Andrew Luck said. "You don't want to get in second-and-longs, third-and-longs and they do a heck of a job. You can tell they're well coached and good players.
Dallas did see an improvement in its pass rush in Philadelphia, putting Mark Sanchez on the ground four times, tying a season high for sacks in a game.
"We've been working so hard and it was great for us to finally put it all together," Mincey said. "It's a great game to build off of and now guys can really get into their own and become the players they want to become. A lot of guys got confidence now so it was great."
It'll be a matchup of two of the league's best offenses, but it also serves up as a game with playoff implications too.
"It's huge. I know for us, we're not taking our foot off the pedal by any means," Luck said. "We understand that Dallas is fighting for a playoff spot, we're fighting for seeding. There's a lot on this game. I know we're fired up for it. I assume Dallas is going to be pumped and ready to go."
The challenge and the stakes are at a season-high this week, now the Cowboys are hoping to get a little "Luck" on their side to bring down Andrew and the Colts.