Cowboys’ DaRon Bland stands alone with most pick-6s in NFL season with 5

Dallas Cowboys cornerback DaRon Bland, right, celebrates with safety Juanyeh Thomas (30) after returning an interception for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde) (Sam Hodde, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press All Rights Reserved)

ARLINGTON, Texas – DaRon Bland apparently hadn’t done quite enough while tying the NFL record for interception returns for a touchdown in a season.

His Dallas Cowboys teammates wanted to see a little more. So the unheralded 2022 fifth-round pick out of Fresno State gave it to them — while taking the record all for himself.

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Bland's fifth pick-6 this season was a 63-yarder that broke a tie with three players and punctuated a 45-10 Thanksgiving victory over the Washington Commanders on Thursday.

Twice, it appeared the Commanders might tackle him before the end zone on the fourth-quarter play. But after quarterback Sam Howell couldn't get him down, receiver Terry McLaurin and running back Brian Robinson Jr. collided trying to do the same.

Bland coasted the final dozen or so yards into NFL history.

“Actually, I wanted to show my teammates my return skills,” Bland said. “That’s what they said, ‘We’ve seen a lot of pick-6s, we got to see one with return skills.’ Hopefully, I showed them.”

Consider his teammates impressed.

“Michael Vick-style, made them collide,” quarterback Dak Prescott said of the move on McLaurin and Robinson after Bland had stepped in front of a pass intended for Jahan Dotson along the Dallas sideline.

Bland came into the game sharing the NFL record of four with Philadelphia’s Eric Allen (1993), Kansas City’s Jim Kearney (1972) and Houston’s Ken Houston (1971).

While the scoring is something new, the interceptions aren't. Bland led the Cowboys with five interceptions as a rookie, and has seven so far this season.

“From every opportunity he’s been given, he’s just been so steady, so professional,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “His play-making ability is special.”

The scoring spree started in the opener when Trevon Diggs' hit on star New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley popped the ball into the air and into the arms of Bland for a 22-yard score.

After the 2021 All-Pro Diggs sustained a season-ending knee injury in practice less than two weeks later, Bland just kept right on scoring.

The next was a 54-yarder of New England's Mac Jones in Week 4, followed by one for 30 yards against Matthew Stafford of the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8.

Now Bland has a streak going. The fourth was another 30-yarder, against 2023 No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young of Carolina just this past Sunday.

To his teammates' point, all of the previous four were straight shots into an open field once he made the catch, including a diving grab on Young's throw.

Howell appeared to have him measured for a tackle as Bland sprinted down the Dallas sideline. After he cut inside, there seemed to be too much traffic with McLaurin and Robinson closing in.

Apparently not.

“I wasn’t going to be denied on that one,” Bland said.

With the game on Thanksgiving, Bland said his family was in the stadium to see the record.

He said he was trying to get into one of the oversized Salvation Army kettles himself after the score, but his teammates picked him up and “messed me all up,” Bland said.

The game was out of reach before Bland's play, so Prescott and right guard Zack Martin were already eating a turkey leg on the sideline — something Prescott said was planned if the team was comfortably ahead.

There was a turkey leg waiting for Bland after making history.

“I got my own,” he said. “It was good, too.”



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