When the Dallas Cowboys were heading into Sunday night’s game versus the Indianapolis Colts, it was expected that the Cowboys would cruise to their ninth win of the season. After all, the Cowboys were heavily favored to win and the opposing quarterback, Matt Ryan, had been struggling all season. The Dallas Cowboys’ defense is young and fast, whereas Ryan is long in the tooth and immobile.
However, somehow the Colts had managed to keep the game close late into the second half. That is until the Cowboys’ electric and opportunistic defense took the game by storm. It was like a cascade of white jerseys that flooded the field, pulling Ryan and the Colts’ offense below the surface. One name stood out among the rest to take this week’s game ball. Daron Bland, this is your moment.
Who is Daron Bland?
Taken in the fifth round of this year’s draft, Daron Bland is far from a household name. Yet, he’s made an impact before his Sunday night showcase versus Indianapolis. For those that recall, Bland made a key interception against Carson Wentz in October to help the Cowboys pick up a pivotal win against the Commanders.
After Jourdan Lewis suffered a season-ending foot injury, Bland has been tabbed the team’s starting slot corner and he hasn’t disappointed. He hasn’t had his name called a whole lot, and that’s a good thing. Bland has been far from a defensive liability and has played with instincts far beyond his years. His game versus the Packers was his rookie moment, but he has recovered from that.
It can’t be understated how impactful Bland was in the game. Having already mentioned how close the game was heading into the fourth quarter, it would have been even closer if not for Bland’s stop on the Colts’ two-point conversion attempt. After scoring to make the score 21-19, the Colts lined for a chance to tie the game. Bland, lined up in man coverage against receiver Parris Campbell, drove on the pass intended for Campbell and was able to force the incompletion to keep Dallas ahead.
On his first interception, the Colts were trailing by two scores with a lot of time left. On third down, Ryan tried to complete a pass near the sideline to Kylen Granson. Bland closes in fast and takes the ball away from Granson for the interception. Admittedly, his second interception was for good measure. Still, it was much like his first and having the desire to want the ball more than the intended receiver, taking the ball out of the hands of Ashton Dulin.
It is DaRon Bland's world and we are all just living in it.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) December 5, 2022
(via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/rwh91cszOj
Daron Bland was exceptional. Two passes defended, two interceptions, and second on the team in tackles, with eight. A very productive and well-rounded outing from the rookie. Unfortunately, the Cowboys got some bad news as it appears that Antony Brown will be out for the foreseeable future, and they are suddenly thin at cornerback behind Bland and Diggs. It remains to be seen if Bland stays in the slot or becomes a full-time boundary corner, but so far things are looking promising.