He is a self-described snatcher of quarterback’s souls — and he makes no apologies for it.
He plays fearlessly. He attacks each snap with a relentless spirit that makes coach Jason Garrett giddy.
He says what others think but are afraid to say. Remember what he said before the Cowboys shut down the New Orleans Saints and ended their 11-game winning streak?
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“You hit a [expletive] in the mouth and they’re not doing what they’re regularly doing, putting up 50 points, they start to get a little distressed,” DeMarcus Lawrence said. “Now, you got them where you want them at and then you choke their ass out. We got to do what we’ve got to do. This is life or death right here. Especially for me, because it means too much.”
DeMarcus Lawrence is the best player on a defensive unit that has been among the NFL’s best all season.
And if Dallas beats the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. at LA Memorial Coliseum, Lawrence will have a big role in it.
It starts with harassing and hitting Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff, who passed for 4,688 yards with 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season.
He was sacked just 33 times; only seven teams allowed fewer sacks. Just so you know, the Rams are 13-2 in his career, when he is sacked one or fewer times in a game.
Pressure him, and the Cowboys increase their odds to win. Quarterbacks under duress make mistakes, and Goff is no different.
“He is a quarterback. I don’t like quarterbacks. I go in every week wanting to take a quarterback’s soul,” Lawrence told reporters on Thursday. “You look in a man’s eye and see fear in his heart. That is when you know you got him. That’s how I play the game.”
But that doesn’t mean he’s going to be chasing sacks. He never does. Los Angeles defensive tackle Aaron Donald led the NFL with 20.5 sacks; Lawrence isn’t trying to impress him.
Lawrence finished with 10.5 sacks, the first Cowboys’ player to record double-digit sacks in consecutive seasons since DeMarcus Ware did it seven straight times. Lawrence finished 13th in the NFL with 23 quarterback hits.
The Cowboys’ defense works because everybody does their job with unflinching discipline. Hero ball doesn’t exist.
It’s about filling gaps, holding the edge and sprinting to the ball every single play. Nothing will change in the playoffs.
“Nothing to prove,” Lawrence said when asked about Donald. “It’s all about winning. Sacks go out the window, if you don’t win the game. He can have the attention as long as I get the ring. He got the big contract too: I’m getting mine too.”
Yes, he is. It’s a matter of how big.
Lawrence is playing under the franchise tag this season, which means the Cowboys are paying him $17 million. He’ll probably want a deal in the $100 million range after the season.
Contract talk can wait, though. If the Cowboys keep winning and he continues to play well, then everything else will take care of itself.
Lawrence is the rare defensive end who plays the run with same ferocity he rushes the passer.
That’s how he wound up with 64 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss.
Todd Gurley, who rushed for 1,251 yards and 17 touchdowns, missed the last two games with a balky knee. In the last two games he played, he gained 28 yards on 11 carries against Chicago and 48 yards on 12 carries against Philadelphia.
The Rams lost each game.
Los Angeles is 6-0 when he’s gained 100 yards this season. The key is to slow down Goff and Gurley.
"Slow them down? I mean, we got speed too, bro. The main thing about slowing them down is playing to our tempo and don't let them dictate the tempo of the game.
“Growing up, that's one of the first things my dad told me, defense wins championships. Absolutely, I think we can take it all the way with this defense."
The soul snatcher has spoken.