NFL Record and a Win: Thanksgiving to Remember for Fresno State Product DaRon Bland - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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NFL Record and a Win: Thanksgiving to Remember for Fresno State Product DaRon Bland

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DaRon Bland capped the Thanksgiving party for the Dallas Cowboys.

“Didn’t see him initially pick it, but I just heard the crowd erupt, looked up and saw (No.) 26 had the ball in his hands,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said of Bland’s NFL record fifth interception return for a touchdown this season. “At that point, I just sprinted to the sideline to get a good view.”

The latest Pix Six by the former Fresno State cornerback punctuated a 25-point fourth quarter for Dallas, which improved to 8-3 with a 45-10 home-field victory over the Washington Commanders (4-8) on Thanksgiving.

On the record-setting play, Bland made Commanders QB Sam Howell, wide receiver Terry McLaurin, and running back Brian Robinson miss on tackles inside the 20-yard line.

Bland’s teammates lifted him into the oversized Salvation Army kettle beyond the end zone, and coach Mike McCarthy had to call a timeout because of the lengthy celebration.

“That’s a big moment. Let’s be honest. The sideline erupted,” McCarthy said. “It’s good to celebrate and you need to. You need to smell the roses when you walk through the garden, as our guys did today. Because when you’re on the other side, it’s hard.”

Offensive Mentality Key to Bland’s Interception Returns

Bland’s scoring return unknotted the record he shared with three others — Philadelphia’s Eric Allen (1993), Kansas City’s Jim Kearney (1972), and Houston’s Ken Houston (1971).

Bland says he approaches every game with an offensive mentality, something he attributes to being a high school wide receiver at Central Catholic in Modesto, California. When he gets the ball in his hands, he’s thinking about nothing other than scoring.

McCarthy said he’s come to expect big plays from Bland, who played one season for Fresno State after transferring from Sacramento State, where he was an all-conference standout.

“It’s just remarkable for a young player,” McCarthy said. “You just watch the way he plays. It’s a great example of the details that he plays with, especially for a young corner. … I just can’t say enough about him. He’s done it since the first day.”

This Pix Six came in the next game after Bland tied the record in the Cowboys’ lopsided victory over Carolina.

“When I touched the end zone, I was like, ‘I just did it,’” Bland said after that game. “But now my mindset is about breaking the record.”

Which he did.

Bland has 12 interceptions in his first 28 NFL games. That compares to five interceptions in 43 games at Sacramento State and Fresno State.

(Associated Press contributed to this article.)

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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