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Cowboys game ball: In a strong defensive effort by Dallas, the game ball goes to a veteran star

In a team effort, one Cowboys defensive player had a slightly bigger impact.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t a showy win on Sunday for the Dallas Cowboys, but it was a pretty decisive win. The Dallas Cowboys used their now-elite defense to totally shut down the New York Giants and walk away with a 21-6 NFC East win. They have now, for all intents and purposes, secured a playoff spot.

The Cowboys defense was once again dominant, but this was a real team effort. They got three turnovers through interceptions, but they came from three different players - Jourdan Lewis, Malik Hooker, and Trevon Diggs. The Cowboys only had one sack split between Neville Gallimore and Dorance Armstrong. Carlos Watkins had a fumble recovery, Keanu Neal led the team in tackles, and Micah Parsons had a huge pass defensed at the goal line. Team effort.

But there was one player who did stand out on defense, and he kind of set the tone for the game. That was the veteran DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence caused one of the interceptions and he caused the fumble that was a turnover. That’s two turnovers to his credit. Additionally he had a tackle for loss, was a force stopping the run with five tackles, and he had two QB hits which show he created some pressure, too. He was even credited with a pass defensed.

DeMarcus Lawrence has come back to a totally different defense than the one he played with in Week 1 before breaking his foot and missing a ton of time. No longer can an offense think that if they can just contain Lawrence, they can beat this Cowboys defense. The rise of Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs has changed all that, and Randy Gregory is also having a great season. Teams can’t shift all their blocking toward Lawrence on the ground or in pass protection. Tank is taking advantage.

On offense, the most productive players were Dalton Schultz and Tony Pollard. In fact, Schultz was surely in contention for the game ball and could easily have been the pick. He led the Cowboys in catches (eight), yards receiving (67), and receiving touchdowns (one). Schultz caught all eight of his targets on the day and was a consistent outlet for Dak Prescott.

Pollard also had a productive day with 74 yards on 12 carries, a 6.2 average. He looked explosive even with the foot injury and was one step away from a huge play on a couple of runs.

The Cowboys are now 10-4 and have put together a three-game win streak heading into crunch time. The offense still isn’t scoring at the rate fans would like to see, but the defense is playing at a high level in all phases now. It’s not just turnovers, but they are playing the run better and are getting pressure on the quarterback more often.

And Tanks is right in the middle of all of it now.