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Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, DE Demarcus Lawrence make friendly wager on TDs vs. takeaways

The Dallas Cowboys entered the season expecting a high-flying offense to carry them back to the playoffs. If the defense could get marginally better under new coordinator Dan Quinn, that would simply be gravy.

The script has flipped.

As we hit late December, the Cowboys are winning with a menacing defense that turns opponents over at a staggering rate, provides short fields and puts a stranglehold on offenses. Meanwhile, Dak Prescott and the offense are struggling to move the ball consistently, settling for a host of field goals and generally look wonky given the number of weapons on that side of the ball.

The dichotomy of how Dallas is playing led Demarcus Lawrence to propose a bet to Prescott this weekend. The wager: The defense would force more turnovers than the offense would score touchdowns.

"Demarcus Lawrence mentioned it to me, and I said 'of course,'" Prescott said, via Jori Epstein of USA TODAY. "They obviously won this one, but we'll make sure it carries over (as) an ongoing thing.

"Defense is kicking our ass."

In Sunday's 21-6 win over the New York Giants, the Cowboys forced four turnovers and scored just two touchdowns; Dallas settled for three field goals. The defense leads the offense 4-2 after one game.

"They're doing a great job getting the ball," Prescott said of the defense. "Front seven's attacking, back end's getting their hands on balls and it's impressive. It's great to be a part of it."

No one involved revealed the wager's details, but owner Jerry Jones -- who was not privy to the bet until after the game -- likes the added competition.

"I love that," Jones told reporters after the win. "I've seen some of the most productive growth in teams when they've been doing a little wagering. Deion [Sanders] and Michael [Irvin] and the defense and the offense used to bet $50,000 a practice on two-minute drills as to who won that practice. We had to stop that [but] it's why they could say it was tougher out there at the two-minute practice than it was in the game."

The Dallas defense has led the way of late, as the offense remains a work in progress since Prescott returned from his calf injury.

Sunday's game marked the third straight contest the Cowboys' defense forced four turnovers. They are the first team to do so since the 2007 Lions, and it's the first time a Cowboys team has done so since 1994. In addition, the six points allowed by Dallas on Sunday is the second-fewest allowed by the 'Boys this season (3 points in Week 10 versus Atlanta) and the fewest points Dallas has allowed to the Giants since Week 1, 2017.

The Cowboys won despite Prescott's third straight game with a sub-100 passer rating (98.6 on Sunday). Only Prescott and Lamar Jackson have had a three-game winning streak this season with sub-100 passer ratings in each game. That Dallas has won each of those contests speaks to how well the defense has played.

The defensive front is wreaking havoc. Lawrence was a game-wrecker, earning a QB pressure that resulted in the game's first turnover and forcing a Saquon Barkley fumble later. Rookie Micah Parsons continued his Pro Bowl season, generating three QB pressures on 13 pass-rush snaps (23.1 percent). Parsons' 20.2 QB pressure percentage this season is a Next Gen Stats-era single-season record (minimum 200 pass rushes). And Trevon Diggs got another INT, his 10th of the year.

The Cowboys have allowed 21 or more points just once in the past six games. For the season, they have 31 takeaways, including 23 INTs.

"This is how we built our identity," Parsons said. "We pride ourselves on playing hard-nosed football, outhitting the other team. It's a better game when we make sure they score zero, and we held them out. I thought we did a great job today."

As the Cowboys stride closer to the postseason, Prescott isn't worried about the offense but hopes the D keeps causing turnovers to such a degree he loses his bet.

"We'll catch up," Prescott said. "Well, hopefully not. Hopefully, we don't catch up, honestly, because I hope they keep rolling them like that."

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