Cowboys defender nears NFL history with pick-six

On the Carolina Panthers’ first play of the fourth quarter, rookie quarterback Bryce Young dropped back and threw the ball toward wide receiver Jonathan Mingo. Bland was running behind the wideout and sprinted ahead of him to snatch the ball for the interception.

The second-year cornerback tumbled to the ground, but wasn’t touched. He hopped up and ran down the left sideline. Young scampered over and tried to slide at Bland as he was nearing the end zone, and tight end Tommy Tremble almost chased him down. Both weren’t able to catch him and Bland ran in for the 30-yard touchdown return.

After Brandon Aubrey missed the extra point attempt, the Cowboys were up 30-10. Dallas went on to win the game 33-10.

NFL pick-six season record

With his fourth pick-six of the 2023 season, DaRon Bland is in a four-way tie for the most interceptions returned for a touchdown in a season in NFL history. There are seven games left in the season.

NFL STATS CENTRAL: The latest NFL scores, schedules, odds, stats and more.

The most recent defender to have as many was 30 years ago when Eric Allen had four in a Pro Bowl year for the Philadelphia Eagles. Ken Houston also had four interception returns for a touchdown during the 1971 season for the Houston Oilers and Jim Kearney did so a season later for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The other three times Bland has reached the end zone to match the NFL record were in Week 1 against the New York Giants, Week 4 against the New England Patriots and Week 8 against the Los Angeles Rams.

When Trevon Diggs tore his ACL in September and was benched for the season, Bland had the opportunity to step up.

‘Any time the ball comes near me, I’m trying to think, ‘What can I do to try and pick it?” Bland told ESPN, adding that part of his sauce is letting plays unfold naturally. ‘… It’s just opportunities. You can’t go in chasing a pick-six or you’re going to get a touchdown scored on you. … When it comes to you, just be ready.’

DaRon Bland stats

DaRon Bland had 5 tackles to go with the interception return in the Week 11 win over the Panthers.

On the season, he has 38 tackles and 6 interceptions through 10 games.

In his rookie campaign last year, Bland started eight games and played in all 17 matchups, registering 54 tackles and a team-high 5 interceptions.

He’s the only defender in the NFL to have 11 interceptions in the past two seasons.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY