FRISCO, Texas — DeMarcus Lawrence knows what you’re thinking:
The Dallas Cowboys just can’t do it. They’re not capable of defusing New Orleans‘ high-powered offense. Nor do they have any chance of containing the Saints’ dynamic, MVP-caliber quarterback, Drew Brees.
Lawrence already knows you don’t think it’s possible. And that’s fine.
The Cowboys were written off weeks ago, deemed too dysfunctional, too inconsistent, too broken to contend for a playoff spot, let alone a Super Bowl. So, yes, Lawrence already knows the Cowboys have been left for dead (figuratively, of course) in the NFC East race. And that’s just the way he likes it.
“Leave us that way,” the Dallas defensive end told Yahoo Sports, issuing a defiant warning to the nonbelievers. “It’s like Lazarus. Lazarus rose from the dead. Nobody believed in him, so it’s like, don’t believe in us. We don’t want you to believe in us now. We’re doing fine all on our own.”
A three-game winning streak — which includes two victories over the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins — has the Cowboys (6-5) feeling extra confident these days. And, in the case of Lawrence, a little spicy too.
Asked if the Saints’ offensive line will be the toughest unit the Cowboys have faced thus far, the chirpy defender unleashed raw emotion.
“They’re gonna have to match our intensity for 60 minutes straight,” Lawrence said. “You hit a mother—— in the mouth and they’re not doing what they’re regularly doing, putting up 50 points. They start to get a little distressed. Now, you got them where you want them at, and then you f—— choke their ass out.
“We gotta do what we gotta do, man. S—. It’s life or death right here. Especially for me. Cause it means too much.”
At stake, personally, for Lawrence is a new contract. (Dallas franchise-tagged him this season at a $17 million price tag. And Lawrence, arguably their best defender, is anxious to get a big-money, multiyear deal in the not-so-distance future.) But there’s plenty on the line, collectively, for the Cowboys.
They’re about to face an offensive juggernaut in prime time — a Saints team that has won 10 straight and has a league-high 409 total points and 37.2 points per game. Not to mention, New Orleans (10-1) owns the No. 1 rushing defense (73.2 yards per game).
Oh, and their quarterback is pretty damn good too.
“I wore No. 9 my entire life,” Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith, a Fort Wayne, Indiana, native and Notre Dame alum, said of Brees, the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards and completions. “… So I got a chance to watch him while he was at Purdue. It’s a great feeling, a great dream come true for me. But when we step on that field, it’s about getting a victory. I’m looking forward to it.”
A month ago, the Cowboys were a mere afterthought in a divisional race no team — not the new-coached New York Giants, the seemingly improved Redskins or the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles — seemed equipped to command. And their double-digit Week 9 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football (following their bye week) only helped to fuel speculation about Jason Garrett’s efficacy as their head coach and raised questions about Dak Prescott’s ability to be the face of their franchise. But fast forward a few weeks, and Dallas is back on track. And feeling like it can’t be stopped.
Said Smith: “We’re getting an opportunity to show what we’re about on a really big stage.”
Added fellow linebacker Sean Lee: “If you want to be an elite defense, you have to stop elite offenses and make big plays in these big games. … If we want to be considered the best we’ve got to play with them, stop them.”
Their unit finally is “clicking on all cylinders,” Lawrence said, adding that a showdown against the hottest team in the league is “a good test for us.”
Dallas is ready, he said. Even if the rest of the football world doesn’t believe it.
And now, “America’s Team” is rallying behind an us-against-the-world mentality.
“When you’re down and low and your back’s against the wall, you’re not going to be able to see the world behind you,” said Lawrence, who has 8.5 sacks through 11 games. “It’s like, man, if we touch this wall again, that’s it. There really is nobody behind you. So the main thing is staying focused on us, don’t worry about nobody else and we’ll be alright.”
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