The Dallas Cowboys have been utterly dominant at home this season and that continued into Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams as Dak Prescott connected with tight end Jake Ferguson for a TD on the opening drive.
How did the defense respond? It bent, but didn't break. DaRon Bland made a 3rd-and-10 stop on Cooper Kupp to force a 33-yard field goal. It was a nice recovery from Bland, who allowed an 18-yard catch to Puka Nucua on 3rd and 11 a few plays earlier.
Bland has been everything the Cowboys could have asked for starting in place of Trevon Diggs, who's out for the season with a torn ACL.
While it's Diggs who has the reputation of the NFL's premier ball-hawk, Bland might soon take that mantle from his All-Pro teammate after he recorded his third (!) defensive touchdown of the season. Watch Bland read this Matthew Stafford pass like a book and return it 30 yards to the house.
Cowboys CB DaRon Bland offiically in Defensive Player of the Year mix after pick-six vs the Rams
Welcome to the Defensive Player of the Year conversation, Bland. It's probably overdue given his production this season, but three defensive touchdowns in seven games? While producing elite coverage numbers? DPOY has become a pass rusher award in recent years, but Bland is undoubtedly deserving of mentioning alongside teammate Micah Parsons, Myles Garrett, T.J. Watt and linebacker Fred Warner.
The young phenom has more touchdown catches this season than multiple recognized wide receivers, including DeVonta Smith, Tee Higgins, Tyler Lockett and Jaylen Waddle. He's also the first Cowboys ever to have three pick-sixes in a single season (there's still 10 games left on the schedule) and leads Dallas in touchdowns.
Ironically, current Cowboy Stephon Gilmore was the last defensive back to win Defensive Player of the Year (2019). That year, Gilmore led the league with six interceptions and 20 passes defended and two pick-sixes. Bland isn't the household name Gilmore was, but he's on pace to have better numbers than Gilmore in 2019.
Again, it's Week 8 and Bland has three pick-sixes.
Maybe Trevon Diggs was right: Bland might be the best CB from the 2022 class.