The Cowboys defense came in to their Week 16 game leading the offense by two in their much-ballyhooed turnovers-to-touchdowns intrasquad bet. Trevon Diggs’s interception on Washington’s first play from scrimmage extended the lead to three.
But when two first-quarter scoring passes from quarterback Dak Prescott brought things a little too close for comfort, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence took matters- and a Taylor Heinicke throw- into his own hands for one of the plays of the night in a 56-14 Dallas romp.
“In all honesty, the quarterback just threw the ball right in my direction,” Lawrence told reporters following his fourth game back after a two-and-a-half-month absence with a broken foot. “I was lucky enough to get my hands on the ball and make it into the end zone. I don’t know how I made it into the end zone; I just made it.”
The interception itself was impressive, to be sure. The 40-yard return for a touchdown, though, is what had the Cowboys locker room talking.
DEMARCUS LAWRENCE INCREDIBLE PICK-6! @TankLawrence
— NFL (@NFL) December 27, 2021
“D-Law’s been extraordinary since his return,” rookie linebacker Micah Parsons said. “He just creates a lot of opportunities for everyone, he’s so effective in the pass game and the run game. He’s just a force when he’s out there. I told him, ‘You’ve got a little bit more juice than I thought you had left.'”
“He’s fire,” cornerback and league interception leader Trevon Diggs raved. “Like, he’s really fast. Madden needs to stop changing his ratings, too. I think they’ve got him at, like, an 80-something. He’s definitely a 90 speed on Madden. Need to fix that.”
The eight-year veteran agreed once it was brought to his attention.
“Yeah, you know, Madden has been slacking the last couple years on my speed and stuff,” Lawrence said. “I feel like they got the picture tonight.”
Demarcus Lawrence (40-yd pick six)
🔹 Lawrence Top Speed: 17.51 mph
🔹 Distance Traveled: 58.1 yds
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 27, 2021
“I’ve got to show the young boys that I still got it,” the 29-year-old said with a smile.
Lawrence’s second career pick- and his first touchdown- made an impression on his offensive counterparts, too.
“Nothing was more impressive than D-Law’s pick-six today,” running back Ezekiel Elliott gushed. “I was impressed with the stiff-arm, the high knees, making the last guy miss on the sideline… he looked like he’s been playing offense his whole life. I think he said was an all-state tight end on the sideline, so you saw that today.”
But Prescott was quick to point out that Lawrence’s brilliant play still only counts as one turnover in the bet.
“That doesn’t double up the points, by any means,” Prescott joked in his postgame press conference. “It was impressive. If anything, I thought that maybe we need to get him in over there at the jumbo-Y position and maybe get him a pass.”
“Well, I’ll say what was echoed on the sideline: we probably need to find a wrinkle or two for him,” Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy concurred. “Just a great play by DeMarcus. If you look, he had the double-[team] on the rush, and the way he came off and played the quarterback’s eyes, just a phenomenal play.”
And just the latest phenomenal play in what has been a remarkable season for the Cowboys defense, its first under coordinator Dan Quinn. The unit now leads the league with 33 takeaways, 10 more than they logged in all of 2020, and still with two games to go.
Cowboys DC Dan Quinn reacting to DeMarcus Lawrence’s pick-6 pic.twitter.com/iQB8hbR16O
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) December 27, 2021
As for the bet, Lawrence’s pick didn’t provide quite enough pad for the defense on a night when Prescott and the offense got its groove back to the tune of six trips to the end zone. They take a plus-two lead into Week 17, even if Lawrence thinks his pick-six should carry bonus points.
“Offense be cheating, bro. They only gave us the turnover, not the touchdown,” he told reporters. “They won the battle today, but we’re coming back strong next week.”
Despite earning the praise of his teammates for providing the athletic highlight of the night, Lawrence almost certainly won’t be lining up as a receiver for a trick play in the red zone anytime soon.
No way is he adding to the offense’s touchdown totals. He’s got a bet- and maybe much more- to win with the Cowboys’ reinvented defense.
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