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DeMarcus Lawrence: Rookie Finds Redemption & Ends Lions Hopes

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The rookie defensive lineman had an eventful final two minutes of the game.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys scored a go-ahead touchdown against the Detroit Lions with a little over two minutes left in the game, there was still work to be done.  Dallas had finally gotten in front of the Lions, but they were only up 24-20. The Lions had plenty of time and two timeouts left. The game was still very much in the balance.

Detroit had the ball at their own 20-yard line after the Dallas kickoff and started their drive in attempt to take the lead. On second and six, Lions' quarterback Matthew Stafford dropped back for a pass and was plastered by Anthony Spencer. The sack forced a fumble that was recovered by DeMarcus Lawrence. The game was now seemingly in hand, more precisely, in Lawrence's hands. The Cowboys should have been able to start burning the clock and heading toward a win. Instead, Lawrence was hit by a Detroit lineman and promptly fumbled the ball back to Detroit. Lions ball with a first down and just under two minutes left. The game was still afoot.

DeMarcus Lawrence was drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft. The Cowboys traded up to get the Boise State product in the hopes he could replace another DeMarcus, that, of course, being DeMarcus Ware. It was a rough start. He broke his foot in the offseason and missed the first eight games of the season. Even when he did get back, he didn't register a sack for the regular season. According to ESPN's stats, Lawrence had 6 tackles, three assists and one tackle for loss. Some advanced stats showed he was starting to get some pressures, but he hadn't really made a splash play all season. And the only big play he'd made in the Lions game was recovering that fumble, then fumbling it right back. If the Lions were to come back and take the lead with a touchdown, Lawrence would have felt awful.

That wasn't how the story would end. The Lions were down to a fourth and three at their own 42-yard line. This was do or die for the Lions. Once again, Stafford dropped back to pass. This time, it was Lawrence who beat the offensive tackle around the edge. He hit Stafford, caused a fumble and fell on it. There was no giving it back this time. DeMarcus Lawrence finally had a big play, a splash play. Lawrence found his redemption, and maybe found a spark to really start his career as a pass-rushing defensive end.