FRISCO, Texas – DeMarcus Lawrence isn't giving the belt back. Not this week, for sure.
With three more sacks on Monday night pushing his early-season total to a league-best 6.5, the 25-year-old defensive end still holds the green-strap championship boxing belt given to the Cowboys' player of the week.
"It's mine," he said with a smile after the team's 28-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals. "Undisputed."
There's no disputing this: Through three games, Lawrence is tormenting offenses like no Cowboys pass rusher has since another DeMarcus (Ware) a few years back.
The 25-year-old is already 1.5 sacks away from tying his 2014 career high of 8. He'd already be there if the NFL hadn't retroactively split one of his two sacks against the Giants with teammate Maliek Collins, and if the officials Monday hadn't nullified another sack due to an illegal contact penalty on linebacker Sean Lee.
Yet Lawrence doesn't seem surprised by his start.
"I'm healthy," he said. "And I'm myself."
Views of Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawernce from his 3 sack night vs the Cardinals at University of Pheonix Stadium, in Glendae Arizona.
That hasn't been the case for a couple of years, most recently last season when he delayed a second back surgery with the Cowboys in the middle of a division title run.
Team officials say Lawrence easily could have shut it down early, gotten the surgery and started his rehab. Instead he tried to manage the injury. The Cowboys played him only 13 snaps over the final four regular-season games to keep him fresh for the playoffs.
Lawrence said it was "important to me" to keep playing after missing the first four games of 2016 due to NFL suspension.
"I missed those four games and I felt like I owed my teammates more than what I had," he said. "It wasn't no time to back out and hide under the covers. It was time to go out and play."
Now healthy at the starting left defensive end position, Lawrence clearly looks lighter, quicker and back on the path toward his first double-digit sack season. He's only the third player in NFL history to record multiple sacks in the first three games of a season.
And, back to the recently retired Ware: Lawrence is the first Cowboys player with three straight multi-sack games at any point in a season since Ware in 2011-12.
With Lawrence's pressure setting the tone up front, the Cowboys' defense was much more efficient in Week 3, holding the Cardinals to 17 points and only 1 of 4 red zone conversions.
"He's got such a great spirit about him," head coach Jason Garrett said. "He's defending the run. He's affecting the quarterback. He's making plays that change the game. Just watch him. That spirit is contagious to the rest of the defense and the rest of the team."
Still the champ after three games.