The way DeMarcus Lawrence has gotten back on track regarding sacks, you'd think his nickname was Freight Train. Instead, it's Tank, and that's likely what rookie quarterback Daniel Jones felt like he got hit by on "Monday Night Football."
Hot on the heels of having led the way in bullying Carson Wentz the week prior in a game that saw the Dallas Cowboys bludgeon the Philadelphia Eagles, Lawrence has again found his swagger in the sack category. He's now delivered one in two consecutive games, along with four quarterback hits, three tackles for a loss and a forced fumble in the same span of time. That makes 4.5 sacks on the year for Lawrence, and his path to success is being aided by the right edge dominance of Robert Quinn, who has 6.5 sacks on the year, and the addition ahead of the trade deadline of Michael Bennett -- .
All told, over the last two contests, the Cowboys have eight sacks and they're getting them from a combination of the usual and unusual suspects, with players like Jaylon Smith, Maliek Collins and Dorance Armstrong all fueling the pass rush effort.
"Get the ball out of your hand fast," Lawrence said, following the gutsy 37-18 win. "That's basically what [Jones] was trying to do all night."
For the most part, it didn't work, and especially in the red zone, where the Giants failed to find the end zone on four of their five trips; and having also failed to convert 69 percent of their third-down conversions.
"That's the key to every game," Lawrence said. "We have to stand up as a defensive unit and be able to make teams kick field goals."
Jones also turned the ball over on three separate occasions, with two of them having been caused by safety Xavier Woods -- who intercepted the rookie first-round pick on one occasion followed by forcing him to fumble on a scramble later in the game. The takeaway-thirsty Cowboys gained possession of each of the three mistakes, the nail in the Giants coffin coming late in the fourth when Armstrong strip-sacked Jones and Lewis scooped the loose ball ran for a defensive touchdown.
If (that's a key word) the Cowboys offense can clean up their execution mistakes and the defense continues to play as it has in the last two games, particularly with the addition of Bennett, they'll be a force come January.
"The sky is not the limit," Lawrence said. "That's the main thing. It's all about working, understanding each other, coming closer together and making sure we get our timing down -- getting to the quarterback on time. That's all it's about.
"That's really all it's about. Focusing on our craft, and focusing on this brotherhood of ours to take us to the Promised Land. [Having Bennett] is huge. To have another speed guy to come and rush the way he did.
"And having Dorance Armstrong stepping up tonight was tremendous and great for all of us. It opens up our game plan, and opens it up for [Robert Quinn] on the other side. They can't chip forever, and they can't chip both sides forever and expect to get the ball out in under three seconds. It's a blessing, and we're going to capitalize on it."
As a defense, they did just that on Monday night, and even got some assistance from a rambunctious black feline that ran onto the field and caused a stoppage in play. As superstitious as athletes are, it's not surprising to discover the Cowboys saw it as an omen and bad luck, but not necessarily for them.
Lawrence viewed it as a death sentence for the Giants.
"First thing to cross my mind, no joke, was like, 'F--k, [the Giants] got bad luck now. It just turned on them,'" he said with a grin. "If a damn black cat runs on a football field on 'Monday Night Football,' you might as well call it quits, bro. Y'all luck is terrible."
Given how poorly the Giants played thereafter, there might be something to Lawrence's thought, but he'd rather not need the supposed luck of a cat going forward; and not simply because the game is actually won by the players. It's because while no player or situation in the NFL can rattle the All-Pro defensive end, the same can't be said when it comes to house cats.
"I hate cats, so it was like f--k, f--k, f--k," he admitted, laughing. "Hurry up and get this cat before it gets to me."
Ironically, Jones was probably saying the same to his offensive linemen about Lawrence, who led a near purr-fect defensive showing.