Dallas Cowboys CB DaRon Bland has written his name into NFL record books just 11 games into the season amid an impressive run of success as a crucial part of the Cowboys defense.
But what record did the second-year cornerback break?
How DaRon Bland Broke the Pick-Six Record
Bland’s name is firmly etched into the annals of NFL history following last Thursday’s blowout win over the Washington Commanders.
The former fifth-round pick jumped in front of a QB Sam Howell pass attempt late in the contest and picked it off before eluding several offensive players to return it 63 yards for a touchdown. Although that kind of play would be a milestone moment for most NFL players, it had a little more meaning in Bland’s case.
With his fifth pick-six of the season, Bland set the NFL’s all-time record for the most interceptions returned for a touchdown in a single season.
He had tied the record just a week earlier with a 30-yard interception return against the Carolina Panthers that left him even with Eric Allen (1993), Ken Houston (1971), and Jim Kearney (1972), who had four pick-sixes each. Bland has also vaulted himself up to a tie for 32nd on the league’s career pick-six leaderboard — seven away from Charles Woodson’s all-time lead of 12.
Interestingly enough, Bland’s five touchdowns on the season are more than several of the NFL’s most notable wide receivers, including Tennessee Titan DeAndre Hopkins (four), Minnesota Viking Justin Jefferson (three), and Seattle Seahawk DK Metcalf (three).
It all makes for a perhaps unexpectedly productive start to Bland’s career, given his draft slot.
The second-year cornerback spent the first four years of his college career at FCS Sacramento State before transferring to Fresno State for his final season. He tallied 45 tackles (34 solo), five pass breakups, and two interceptions in 13 games played as a Bulldog. As a result, he was selected in the fifth round of the 2022 draft by Dallas.
Coming from that background and draft slot, few could have predicted Bland’s emergence as one of the league’s most prolific pick-six threats ever this season.
It’s been a much-needed boom for the Cowboys defense after losing CB Trevon Diggs to a season-ending injury early in the campaign. Diggs contributed to Bland’s first pick-six of the season by laying a big hit on New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley to jar the ball up in the air for Bland to haul in and eventually return to the end zone during the Week 1 win over the Giants.
Bland has been one of the defensive backfield’s most prolific players since and has been playing a key part in Dallas’ 7-3 start ahead of its Thursday Night Football clash with the Seattle Seahawks.
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