FRISCO, Texas – It's a criticism that's been following the Cowboys' defense in recent weeks, and DeMarcus Lawrence isn't trying to hear it.
The Cowboys are riding a three-game winning streak in large part thanks to their defense, which has forced 10 takeaways and allowed an average of just 19 points per game during that stretch.
The rebuttal to that success has been their level of competition. Cincinnati, San Francisco and Philadelphia have a combined record of 14-29-2, and all three started quarterbacks who were backups at the beginning of the season.
As Lawrence pointed out, that's something the Cowboys relate to quite well.
"Yeah, we don't have Dak, so I don't understand that comment," he said. "It doesn't matter who we're playing against. Everybody is an NFL-caliber player, and I feel like everybody is good enough if they're in the NFL."
It's a fantastic point. The Cowboys undoubtedly haven't received much sympathy for playing the majority of their season without Dak Prescott, who fractured his ankle all the way back on Oct. 11. Style points also don't matter in the NFL, so long as you beat whoever's next on the schedule.
"It doesn't matter who's in front of us, we've got to keep chopping down wood to make it where we want to go," Lawrence said.
The streak should end on Sunday. Daniel Jones has battled ankle and hamstring injuries in the latter stages of the season, but he started in New York's loss to Baltimore last weekend and is on track to play against the Cowboys.
The Giants rank 30th in the NFL with 48 sacks allowed this season, and Jones has accounted for 43 of those. The second-year signal-caller has developed a reputation for holding onto the ball, as he also has 10 fumbled on the year to go along with all those sacks.
"He's still a young quarterback, has a lot to learn in the NFL," Lawrence said. "It's all about quarterbacks feeling safe and if their offensive line makes them feel safe enough to hold the ball for three or four seconds, so be it. But that's not the case here. You'll see on Sunday."
Regardless of the reason for the win streak, it has put the Cowboys squarely in position to accomplish something few would have seen as possible a month ago – win the NFC East, and secure the playoff berth that goes with it.
If the Cowboys can do that, after the season they've been through, they're not going to care about how it happened – or who has something critical to say about it.
"We had a rough start, but I feel like the guys came together strongly and we're playing awesome football right now," Lawrence said. "All we can do is keep playing awesome football and let everything else fall into place. We can't sit here and dwell on what's going on outside our football complex but getting better, period."