Cowboys cornerback DaRon Bland made history on Thursday by scoring his fifth pick-6 of the season in the fourth quarter of Dallas’ Thanksgiving game against the Washington Commanders.
Bland set the record with a 63-yard pick and return off Sam Howell to extend his team’s late lead and help Dallas claim a 45-10 victory in Week 12. He also finished the game with 10 tackles and a pass breakup.
Bland entered the Commanders matchup tied with Ken Houston (1971), Jim Kearney (1972), and Eric Allen (1993) with four interceptions returned for touchdowns in a single campaign. His record-breaking play on Thursday also makes him the Cowboys’ all-time leader in pick-6s.
“That was NFL history in there,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said postgame, according to Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk. “I’ll tell you this: I’ve never seen a group of young, older men and coaches any more excited to be a part of something like that record that (Bland) had than the genuine cheering and seeing them congratulating and enjoying it with him. It meant something to everybody in that room, and of course, he’s just Mr. Humble.”
The 24-year-old continues to boost his resume for Defensive Player of the Year. He leads the NFL with seven interceptions in 11 games to go along with 13 pass breakups and 48 tackles. A defensive back hasn’t been named the league’s top defender since former New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who’s now Bland’s teammate in Dallas.
Bland’s five touchdowns rank second on the Cowboys this season behind receiver CeeDee Lamb’s six scores.
Cowboys star Micah Parsons and Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay backed Bland as the 2023 Defensive Player of the Year on social media on Thursday:
Bland joined the Cowboys as a fifth-round pick last year and instantly flashed his ball-hawk skills by intercepting five passes as a rookie. This year, Dallas needed the Sacramento State product to step up after Trevon Diggs – the club’s No. 1 corner – went down with a season-ending injury.
It’s safe to say Bland was up for the challenge.
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