What DaRon Bland did in the final quarter versus Washington was unprecedented, and his 63-yard pick-six was a most satisfying dessert to top off a 45-10 holiday feast in sweet style. But now that the Cowboys cornerback has made NFL history by becoming the first player ever to notch five interception-return touchdowns in a single season, what’s next?
The easy answer is that he still has six more games to play, and anything else he does post-Thanksgiving is gravy. He’s the current league leader in interceptions (with one more than Ravens safety Geno Stone), and he’s in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year consideration.
Even if he never ever picks off another pass, that all makes for an incredible story for a fifth-round draft pick out of tiny Fresno State who- as recently as the COVID season of 2020- was at even tinier Sacramento State.
But Bland will undoubtedly add more interceptions to his resume, and he’ll likely take some of them to the end zone.
“I’m sure it’s not going to stop,” Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb said this week. “They keep trying him, he’ll get another one.”
And with every one Bland grabs, he inches further and further up some awfully star-studded leaderboards.
In terms of career house calls, Bland already has just 31 names ahead of him. Hall of Famer Rod Woodson is the all-time pick-six king, with 12. But it took him 238 outings with four different teams to do it; Bland is over 40% of the way there, after just 28 regular-season games.
— NFL (@NFL) November 29, 2023
With his very next interception-return score, Bland will move into a tie with the likes of Asante Samuel, Derrick Brooks, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Darrell Green, who terrorized quarterbacks for a jaw-dropping 20 seasons. Bland is in his second season; no one above him on the all-time pick-six list played for fewer than nine seasons. Current free agent Marcus Peters, with six total, is in his ninth season now, the only active player ahead of Bland. Deion Jones, in his eighth year, also has five; he’s the only active player tied with Bland.
Bland is already the Cowboys’ all-time franchise leader in pick-sixes, a fact that’s a little hard to believe. But it’s true: he passed Dennis Thurman and Dexter Coakley (four apiece) with his Thanksgiving score. Even legends Mel Renfro and Lee Roy Jordan had just three each over their Ring of Honor careers. Same with Terence Newman. Chuck Howley, Charlie Waters, Darren Woodson, and current teammate Trevon Diggs? Two. And before you ask, Deion Sanders totaled nine as a pro, but just two while wearing the star.
As far as regular old interceptions go, Bland’s 12 career picks already have him in 26th place in the annals of Cowboys history. With two more- well within reach, given his astonishing current pace of one every 2.33 games- he’ll be in the top 20.
True, he’s got a long way to go to catch Renfro’s club mark of 52 (amassed over 14 seasons), but anyone who thinks that’s beyond the 24-year-old Bland’s grasp clearly hasn’t watched him jump a route.
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