Typically when you lose an All-Pro cornerback like Trevon Diggs, it would cause most teams in the NFL to panic.
But most teams around the league don’t have a cornerback like DaRon Bland waiting to step up. Bland was terrific in coverage once again for the Dallas Cowboys as they decimated the Los Angeles Rams 43-20 on Sunday to improve to 5-2.
It was Bland who broke the game open with Dallas holding onto a 10-3 lead in the first quarter. With the Rams deep on their side of the field Matthew Stafford dropped back and tried to hit star receiver Cooper Kupp on an out route to the left sideline.
The Super Bowl winning quarterback didn’t put enough zip on the pass and Bland was waiting in perfect position for the timely interception that he returned 30 yards for a touchdown. It was the third pick six of the season for the ball-hawking defensive back.
“Cooper Kupp was in a stack (formation) and he had an option route,” Bland said of his interception. “He broke out and as soon as I turned I saw that ball coming and just said ‘Thank God.’ It felt good.”
Just how impressive is that feat? Bland has scored more touchdowns Tee Higgins and has scored the same amount as other star receivers like Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and his own teammate CeeDee Lamb.
Bland’s performance this season is a continuation of what he showcased last season when he led the team with five interceptions, two more than Diggs.
“It means a lot, you know with Diggs he always wants to get the ball. Just being able to step in for him feels good,” Bland said.
Those around the franchise aren’t surprised at how well the former late round pick has been able to perform since Diggs went down with his season-ending injury.
“He showed quick he’s had a lot of work, but he’s deserves it,” owner Jerry Jones said. “And he’s just what we see. And he’s made big plays for us so far. He’ll make big plays in my mind the rest of his career.”
Jourdan Lewis has moved to the nickel spot to takeover for Bland with him now being on the boundary. After setting a franchise record for pick sixes in a season, Lewis is hoping the country begins to take notice of what his teammate can do.
“He’s playing like he’s been playing,” Lewis said. “This is exactly who we knew he was. He’s just going out there executing the gameplan.”
Lewis laughed when he learned Bland is neck and neck with some of the game’s best receivers in touchdowns scored and while the stat may seem outlandish, Lewis isn’t surprised Bland continues to be such an elite playmaker.
“It’s who he is, it’s not crazy to us,” Lewis said. “The world is just now knowing how dynamic he is, they should’ve known last year, but this is his coming out party. We knew he was like this, so it’s really just showing the world.”
With a NFC East battle coming up against Philadelphia, Bland will be either guarding A.J. Brown or Smith in what should be the most-watched game on the NFL slate next week.
If they still don’t know who Bland is now, then what better stage is there to continue his coming out party?