Cowboys CB DaRon Bland says latest pick-six is best of his NFL record-tying bunch - Calvin Watkins, Dallas Morning News
No player has had four interception returns for touchdowns in a season since 1993, and DaRon Bland still has seven games to break the record.
Bland’s sixth interception of the season also was his fourth pick-six of 2023. Bland has tied an NFL record for the most pick-sixes in a season, joining Eric Allen (1993), Ken Houston (1971) and Jim Kearney (1972).
And Bland said this latest pick-six is the best of the four.
After Bland picked off the pass, he made a somersault, got up and ran 30 yards for the touchdown.
“Once I rolled over and got to my feet, I was like, ‘Oh he didn’t touch me, is he going to catch up?” Bland said of receiver Jonathan Mingo, the intended receiver. “I got to get out of here now.”
The four pick-sixes are the most by a player in his first two seasons in league history. It’s an unreal stat that even Bland can’t believe.
“It hasn’t hit me,” Bland said. “I feel like really I’m just doing my job and the kind of stuff I feel like I kinda been doing. I felt like myself, not really hit me. It feels like another day.”
The Cowboys schedule remains favorable as far as the W-L record of their opponents, but they face the Commanders on short rest on Thanksgiving.
FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys were back in The Star in Frisco on Monday as they quickly turn their attention to the Washington Commanders with their Thanksgiving matchup sitting just three days away.
With the short week, recovering both physically and mentally from Sunday’s win in Carolina takes precedence while also preparing off the field for what the Commanders will bring to town. The Cowboys will not practice Monday before hitting the practice field Tuesday and a light walk-through on Wednesday.
“Definitely gotta be on your keys faster,” second-year offensive lineman Tyler Smith said. “It’s a short turnaround. Gotta take care of your body, first and foremost, and then just being ready. I got a little bit of experience from last year of how it goes. You definitely just have to take advantage of all of the reps you get, because it may not be as physical as a regular week would be.”
The disadvantage that has existed in the past does not exist in 2023 as the Cowboys and Commanders will have the same amount of time to prepare for Thursday’s clash.
“Everyone has to play on Thursday now, so it’s not like we’re at a disadvantage here,” veteran offensive lineman Zack Martin said. “Everyone’s gotta do it. Washington played yesterday just like us. It’s one of those things that each year you know you’ll have a Thursday night game. It’s tough to recover for but it’s an even playing field. Everybody’s gotta do it.”
Monitoring the health of the Cowboys roster over this next stretch of games will be critical, and CeeDee Lamb is a player they need at 100% all the time.
Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb landed on the team’s first injury report of the week.
The Cowboys did not hold a practice because they will be hosting the Commanders on Thursday afternoon, but they estimated that Lamb would have been limited if they had their usual session. An ankle injury is listed as the reason why he would not have fully participated.
Lamb had six catches for 38 yards and a touchdown in the 33-10 win over the Panthers.
Right tackle Terence Steele (ankle) also would have been limited while tight end Peyton Hendershot (ankle), defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa (hamstring), and wide receiver KaVontae Turpin (shoulder) were listed as full participants. Running back Rico Dowdle (ankle) and safety Jayron Kearse (back) would have been out of practice.
The Cowboys pass offense showed they can spread the ball around when coverage is sent Lamb’s way, while also running for tough yards to close out a road win.
Cowboys take care of business. The Panthers kept hanging around in the first half and made it a one-possession game late in the third quarter. But Dallas immediately responded with a 75-yard TD drive and then finished the game off with nine points off Panthers turnovers. It was not a pretty game early, as the Cowboys failed to finish a few drives and Carolina had one long TD drive that took nearly nine minutes off the clock. Otherwise, Dallas’ defense did enough — outside of gap discipline against the run — and Dak Prescott and the passing game led a balanced attack for the win. The Panthers did everything to contain CeeDee Lamb (six catches, 38 yards, TD on nine targets), but eight Cowboys had at least 10 receiving yards and two-plus catches.
Panthers’ penalties, late turnovers ended any upset hopes. If Frank Reich had designs on pulling off a monumental upset, he needed nearly perfect conditions — and a slew of penalties was not part of that winning formula. Carolina was flagged eight times for 90 yards. Two unnecessary roughness penalties came after stops on third-and-long before halftime. Both helped Dak Prescott eventually hit CeeDee Lamb to finish off the Cowboys’ TD drive and make it a 17-3 game. Another earlier third-and-10 penalty by ex-Cowboy Xavier Woods enabled a Dallas field goal. The Panthers made it a one-score game again in the third quarter, but two early fourth-quarter turnovers sealed it. The first was a pick-six. The second was a Bryce Young fumble, which Dallas turned into an insurance field goal. The Panthers hung in there but were undone by their own mistakes.
DaRon Bland’s amazing season continues. When the Cowboys lost Trevon Diggs to a torn ACL in Week 3, it was viewed as a major loss for one of the best defenses in the NFL — and a Super Bowl contender. In stepped Bland, who was a pleasant surprise as a fifth-round rookie in 2022, starting 10 games (including playoffs) and intercepting five passes, including four after Thanksgiving last year. Bland’s rookie season, it turned out, was just the appetizer. He has somehow been far better, intercepting his sixth pass of the season against Carolina — and it was his fourth pick-six of the season. That ties Bland for the most pick-sixes in a single season in NFL history. Granted, this came against the Panthers, who have struggled to throw the ball this season. But in no way should that be held against Bland, who has stepped up in an incredible way — yet another testament to a fine Dallas scouting department that has unearthed some late gems in recent years.
Next Gen stat of the game: Eight of Micah Parsons’ 10 pressures on Sunday came in 2.5 seconds or fewer, the most quick pressures in a game by any player in the NFL this season.
NFL Research: Parsons has 11 career games with two-plus sacks, the most in the NFL since 2021. The only players with more prior to turning 25 years old are Shawne Merriman and Aldon Smith.
The production Dalton Schultz left behind at TE in Dallas has continued in Houston, but the Cowboys have quickly seen Jake Ferguson and Luke Schoonmaker pick up the slack.
3. Dalton Schultz, TE (Texans)
The Dallas Cowboys are slowly but surely finding they might have something at the tight end position in former fourth-round pick Jake Ferguson, but you can’t help but keep tabs on what Dalton Schultz is doing for the Houston Texans so far this season.
After receiving the franchise tag from the Cowboys last offseason, Schultz was given a pretty modest one-year deal to play for DeMeco Ryans and the Texans, and he might have earned himself some more money on the 2024 free agent market, perhaps even to stick around Houston.
Schultz is averaging 11.4 yards per reception for the Texans, a career-high, and he’s less than a yard off of his career-best for yards per game right now at 46.8. With four touchdowns in nine games, Schultz looks like he has a shot to match or maybe even beat his career-high of eight touchdowns back in 2021 for Dallas.
When the Cowboys let Schultz go, I thought it was a clear chance to upgrade the upside at the position. There never seemed to be anything overly spectacular about him, but sometimes when you see a guy like this thrive in a totally new environment, you start to appreciate more the things that made them productive that went beyond just being one of the only outlets for Dak Prescott.
Schultz finds soft spots in the defense, he’s effective in the red zone, and he knows how to move the chains. He’s already got 22 first-down receptions this season.
NFL power rankings: 49ers, Cowboys, Broncos keep rising; Seahawks, Steelers slip for Week 12 - Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
How close will the Cowboys and Eagles find themselves in these power rankings when they meet in week 14? Keep an eye out for our full Cowboys power rankings summary later today.
NFL power rankings Week 12
1. Philadelphia Eagles 8-1 (previous week: 1)
The Eagles are well aware they have a tough schedule after the bye, starting with the most brutal matchup possible in the Super Bowl 57 rematch in Kansas City. Philadelphia might need to sweep Dallas to ensure staying on top of the East and still has San Francisco looming.
2. Kansas City Chiefs 7-2 (2)
The Chiefs are back trying to crush it after an Andy Reid bye on Monday night, with Reid coaching against his former team. Look for the passing game to be more dangerous with Patrick Mahomes as they add new wrinkles. The defense has been the standout strength in the Super Bowl defense, however.
3. San Francisco 49ers 7-3 (4)
The 49ers got over their midseason three-game hiccup in style with big wins over the Jaguars and Buccaneers in which their offense looks unstoppable, led by red-hot Brock Purdy with Christian McCaffrey and everyone else healthy. They are back to pushing for “best in the NFC” status.
4. Detroit Lions 8-2 (3)
The Lions didn’t look good with Jared Goff turnovers for most of the game vs. Chicago, also having more defensive breakdowns. But credit them for digging deep late and making the plays needed to win, a sign of a strong, complete playoff team.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars 7-3 (9)
The Jaguars showed whey can do with full energy and execution offensively and defensively, as the 49ers’ debacle was a needed wake-up call to lead to the Titans domination. They’re just fine with Trevor Lawrence again.
8. Dallas Cowboys 7-3 (10)
The Cowboys have been relentlessly terrific in not taking weaker teams lightly and ripped into the Panthers with more great offense and another big defensive play by Daron Bland. They should keep it up vs. the Commanders on Thursday.
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