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Dallas Pass Rush Chasing Its Own Expectations


ARLINGTON, Texas – Ho, hum. The Cowboys' defense will merely have to settle for two game-changing takeaways.

That's the territory we've entered into as the Cowboys eye up the last two games of their regular season. By almost any other measure, this defense played a wonderful game in a 56-14 beatdown of Washington, allowing just two touchdowns and forcing another two takeaways.

The problem now is that the Cowboys are going against their own outsized expectations – which have gotten quite lofty.

"We could do a lot better," said Micah Parsons. "We did a good job, but that's not the best we could do."

Parsons' statement would sound ridiculous if not for the three games before this, when the Cowboys did in fact outdo this performance.

Even still, it's hard to quibble with a performance that saw the Dallas defense sack Taylor Heinicke four times, intercept him twice and score a touchdown for good measure.

"It's just all about building on that momentum, that's what we did today," said DeMarcus Lawrence. "Offense came out and scored, defense came out and scored and special teams so being able to click on all three phases is huge for us."

Even on a night when Trevon Diggs notched his 11th interception of the season, it was Lawrence's moment who stole the show. It's one thing to bat a Heinicke pass at the line of scrimmage and intercept it, but it's an entirely different matter to rumble another 40 yards for a touchdown, stiff-arming tacklers and dodging blockers along the way.

"You know, just being the oldest guy on the defense, it's a lot of talent to keep up with so you know I've got to show the young boys I still got it," Lawrence said.

In all honesty, this defense's only problem might be that their offense is goosing the rules of their infamous bet – so that Lawrence's takeaway only counts for one in the ledger, rather than two.

"Offense be cheating bro," Lawrence said. "They only gave us the turnover not the touchdown, so they won the battle today, but we coming back strong next weekend."

The scary thought is that seems totally believable. By recent standards, this felt like a somewhat quiet night. And yet, both Lawrence and Parsons notched a sack, while rotational guys like Tarell Basham, Dorance Armstrong and Chauncey Golston combined for two more. Even Jayron Kearse got in on it, getting his first sack of the season on a blitz.

"I think it is just the same story it was two weeks ago. They kicked our ass in all three phases of the game," Heinicke said.

If anyone is capable of improving on that, it might be this group. However high their standards might be, it'll be fun to see them case after them.

"I said we were going to peak, and I think we're peaking at the right moment, right now," Parsons said.

We're just showing that we're staying hungry. We're not alligators, we don't get paralyzed after we eat. So we're going to keep going. I listen to a lot of motivational videos … I really like animals.

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