ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott didn’t lean on his defense quite so much this time.
Still, it was quite the assist — again — from cornerback DaRon Bland.
Prescott threw two of his four touchdown passes to CeeDee Lamb, Bland recorded his NFL-leading third interception return for a score and the Dallas Cowboys beat the Los Angeles Rams 43-20 on Sunday.
Sam Williams blocked a punt for a safety before KaVontae Turpin returned the ensuing punt 63 yards to set up Lamb’s first TD grab, helping the Cowboys (5-2) to a 33-3 lead late in the first half in their 11th consecutive home victory.
The streak matches the club’s longest since an 11-game run at Texas Stadium in 1991-92, almost two decades before AT&T Stadium opened.
It was a rough-and-tumble homecoming for Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was replaced by Brett Rypien late in the third quarter after injuring a thumb on a failed 2-point conversion pass and aggravating the injury after catching another.
Coach Sean McVay said he didn’t know the extent of Stafford’s injury. The quarterback didn’t speak to reporters after the game.
Stafford led scoring drives on either side of halftime to help the Rams (3-5) trim a 30-point deficit to 16. But the former Dallas high school standout, visiting his hometown team for the first time as a Super Bowl champion, sent the Cowboys on their way with an early mistake.
With the Cowboys sending six pass rushers at him, Stafford threw behind Cooper Kupp to a waiting Bland for an easy 30-yard return and a 17-3 Dallas lead in the first quarter.
“We ended up recognizing that they were in a pressure situation, and we had a miscommunication between Matthew and Cooper in regards to a route concept that has been one that we’ve activated and had a lot of success with it,” McVay said. “That was a tough one for us. ”
Bland brought an interception back 22 yards for a score against the New York Giants in the opener before a 54-yarder in Week 4 against the Patriots.
The second-year cornerback is the third player since the 1970 merger with three pick-6s in the first seven games of a season. The NFL record for an entire season is four, last accomplished 30 years ago.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Bland, a fifth-round pick out of Fresno State who is tied with Baltimore’s Geno Stone for the league lead with four picks. “I keep finding the ball. I’m just trying to do my job.”
Bland’s first TD was created by fellow cornerback Trevon Diggs, whose big hit knocked the ball in the air. The last two have come since Diggs was sidelined by a season-ending knee injury.
“He’s that guy,” Prescott said. “Not a lot of guys being able to move positions like that and make the impact that he’s been able to make. Obviously when you lose a guy like Trevon, people wonder. Then when a guy like that steps in and he says, ‘Hey, I’m here and I’m ready to play,’ that’s important.”
Despite getting sacked three times in the first quarter — with a fourth wiped out by a defensive penalty — Prescott finished the first half 17 of 21 for 225 yards. He ended up with his first 300-yard game of the season (25 of 31 for 304 yards with an interception).
Three of Dallas’ victories — all by margins of at least 20 points — have come with ho-hum performances from the offense and huge plays on defense and special teams.
This time, Prescott became the leader of a storied franchise with his seventh game of at least 300 yards and four touchdowns passing.
Lamb had career highs with 12 catches for 158 yards, including another personal best with 122 yards before the break.
“You can clearly see the connection,” Dallas coach Mike McCarthy said. “These guys have spent a tremendous amount of time together.”
Dallas kicker Brandon Aubrey tied an NFL record with two field goals, giving him 18 consecutive makes to start his career. Travis Coons made his first 18 with Cleveland in 2015.
Rams receiver Puka Nacua had three catches to set a league record for the most catches through the first eight games of a career with 61. But he fell short of the 51 yards needed to set that mark as well, finishing with 43.
WARE IN RING OF HONOR
The Cowboys inducted franchise career sacks leader DeMarcus Ware into the team’s ring of honor at halftime. Ware was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past summer. The 41-year-old is the 23rd member of the ring of honor.
Ware had 117 of his 138 1/2 career sacks in nine years with the Cowboys before going to Denver and winning a Super Bowl after he was released in a cost-cutting move. Ware’s 20 sacks in 2008 were the most in a single season in franchise history since sacks became an official stat in 1982.
Cowboys LT Tyron Smith was inactive after injuring his neck in practice during the week. It’s the third game the eight-time Pro Bowler has missed, which means the 32-year-old has been sidelined at least three games in each of the past eight seasons. … The Rams were without RT Rob Havenstein (calf).
Rams: At Green Bay next Sunday before the bye.
Cowboys: At Philadelphia next Sunday.
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