Bland continues to prove he is anything but.
On Saturday, fifth round draft pick Daron Bland threw his hat into the competition and made a strong, if not definitive, case for himself as the answer to the question of who should be on the boundary in Anthony Brown’s stead. Recently, Bland had been filling in at the nickel spot for Jourdan Lewis. He was already making a name for himself having picked up a team-leading fourth interception during the Week 15 loss to the Jaguars. Some even argued that he was performing so well, it would be a shame to move him to another spot.
As it turned out, on Saturday, he was in the perfect spot to make a crucial play to stop the Eagles from taking the lead in what was a tied game. With less than five minutes left in the 4th quarter and the Eagles already on the Dallas 46 yard line, Daron Bland wrestled away a pass intended for Quez Watkins and gave the Cowboys the chance to take the lead for themselves.
DaRon Bland took it away from him for the INT!
: #PHIvsDAL on FOX
— NFL (@NFL) December 25, 2022
This was Bland’s fifth interception of the year, tying the franchise record for most interceptions by a rookie defensive back. Safety Roy Williams and cornerback Derek Ross each had five interceptions as rookies in 2002. With 4 interceptions over the past four weeks, its foreseeable that he could even break that record this season.
Even if it likely won’t change the standings, this win was big for Dallas.
While the Cowboys continue to live in the moment, they understand their performance prepares them for what lies ahead. A 40-34 win over the Eagles was imperative heading into the postseason even though chances are it won’t impact their seeding.
“This was a game we wanted to get and felt like we had to have, more for ourselves,” head coach Mike McCarthy said.
Philadelphia beat Dallas earlier in the season. A sweep would have put a serious dent in the Cowboys’ confidence, especially since quarterback and Most Valuable Player candidate Jalen Hurts was unable to play in Saturday’s game. Lose at AT&T Stadium to backup Gardner Minshew, and why would anyone expect the Cowboys to beat the Eagles and a healthy Hurts if their paths cross again in the playoffs?
The Eagles beat Cooper Rush at Lincoln Financial Field. The Cowboys beat Minshew in Arlington. Call it a push.
And let’s face it. If these teams meet again, the Philadelphia defense will be thinking about how the Cowboys scored on 8-of-10 possessions in one stretch on the way to 40 points.
Cowboys Week 16 studs and duds: DaRon Bland rips victory away from Eagles - Randy Gurzi, The Landry Hat
Who stood out to you in Dallas’ week 16 win?
Stud: CeeDee Lamb, Wide Receiver
Before this game, CeeDee Lamb opened up about how much attention he gets from the opposing defenses and how he needed to still find a way to make plays even with the extra attention. On Saturday, he again had defenders all over him but still put up some monster numbers.
Lamb finished with 10 receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns. His first was a 36-yarder that gave Dallas the lead 14-10 in the second quarter.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 24, 2022
He scored again in the fourth, on a seven-yard touchdown that tied the game up at 34. Lamb has been pressed into the No. 1 wide receiver role and is really starting to come into his own.
The Cowboys left fans full of Christmas cheer this holiday season.
And look, I know, the Eagles didn’t have Hurts and this reeling defensed allowing Minshew to throw for the 355 yards, most since the 374 his rookie season with Jacksonville 25 games ago and his first two touchdown passes of the season.
But hey, the Cowboys won, somehow, someway.
And as DeMarcus Lawrence said, “When you on a fight with adversity and you can overcome,” his point being the achievement is meaningful.
So, my point being, don’t keep trying to come to some analytical conclusion about this team after every game. Just go with it. There is no team out there smacking their lips wanting to play these Cowboys. They are dangerous, while being dangerous to themselves with two games to go before embarking in the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
Each game is not a book, it’s a chapter. Maybe just a passage.
And this story is not over with just yet. Just ask the 93,754, the far majority giving them a glorious standing ovation with 14 seconds remaining in this nailbiter.
As the newcomer Hilton says of this team, seeing the Cowboys up close and personally these past 12 days, “Lot of grit, lot of grit, no matter what the score is.”
Mighty insightful during his 12 Days of Christmas.
Instead of the 12 days of Christmas, enjoy these 10 Dallas takes.
10. Biggest Play? - You know you’ve seen a classic when you can’t pinpoint the key play of the game.
Was it T.Y. Hilton’s 52-yard catch on 3rd and 30? Was it Carlos Watkins dislodging the ball from Philly running back Miles Sanders with 2:19 remaining? Or was it just a hint of pressure from Dante Fowler that forced Gardner Minshew’s desperation incompletion in the end zone as time expired?
Pick one. You won’t be wrong.
8. Ten-Oh! - Cowboys did a lot of things wrong. But spotting the 13-1 Eagles - Jalen Hurts or not - 10 points and rallying to win is something to be merry about indeed.
7. T.Y. Over OBJ - While Santa apparently isn’t going to deliver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cowboys for Christmas, stand-in T.Y. Hilton made quite the debut. It looked bleak after tackles Tyron Smith and Tyler Smith allowed sacks on consecutive plays with Dallas trailing 34-27 with eight minutes remaining. But on 3rd and 30 - third and thirty! - Dak Prescott threw a bomb to Hilton, who simply beat two defenders on a go route.
The good: not putting a damper on the holidays.
THE BAD - Defense. Defense. Defense.
Once the backbone and driving force of the team, the Cowboys defense, as of late, has been struggling and was once again an area of concern in Week 16 against the Philadelphia. To their credit, the Eagles are one of the better offenses in the league, even with a backup QB. However, giving up 442 total yards, 355 of which were through the air, is usually a recipe for disaster. Dallas’ defense is better than the way they been playing the past several weeks. Somehow, someway, they need to figure out what’s been going on and fix it. But we do have to give them their due for creating turnovers.
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