ARLINGTON, TX - The last time Sam Darnold played the Dallas Cowboys, he walked them for 332 passing yards and two touchdowns in a 24-22 victory for the New York Jets. That was in 2019, however, and Trevon Diggs was still taking snaps for Nick Saban at Alabama. Fast forward to Week 4 of the 2021 season and Darnold is now leading the Carolina Panthers, and he's been formally introduced to Diggs, who made sure there wouldn't be any deja vu going on in Dallas.
Only three days after being named NFC Defensive Player of the Month, Diggs strolled onto the field at AT&T Stadium and grabbed a pivotal interception against Darnold in the second half. And then, not long after, he grabbed another one -- marking his second multi-interception game as a pro and taking his INT tally to eight in his first 15 NFL starts.
Additionally, his five interceptions to start the season now passes legendary defensive back Everson Walls for the most in Cowboys history through the first four games of a campaign, and he's doing it while continually.
"He said he wanted another interception," said Diggs after the Week 4 victory. "I gave him one. Well, actually, I gave him two."
But as blazing as a start as Diggs is having, he still believes he's leaving something on the field.
"No," he said when asked if he was pleased with his performance thus far. "I expect more from myself. I just have to keep fighting, keep working and keep pushing. ... I feel like I still have work to do."
It's now the fourth week in a row that's seen Diggs mostly travel with the opposing team's top wide receiver -- from perennial Pro Bowl receivers Mike Evans and Keenan Allen to rookie first-round pick DeVonta Smith and now D.J. Moore, respectively. All he's done in the process is what no one before him has ever done in the history of one of the most storied franchises in the entire NFL, and his trajectory toward potentially being an All-Pro himself continues to streak across the football skies.
When asked if he goes to defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and asks to play the best wideout each week or if Quinn challenges him to do it, a smiling Diggs essentially said yes, implying both of those things are occurring at the exact same time in practice and in meetings.
"I love the challenge," said Diggs. "It's mano y mano. Who's better, at the end of the day? I wanna see who's better."
Eventually, though, opposing quarterbacks may begin treating him like elite corners that came before him, e.g., Richard Sherman, Deion Sanders and Darrelle Revis -- the latter being one Diggs most closely models his game after -- but he's hoping they keep testing him, so he can continue to make them regret it.
"Keep throwing," he said. "I want more interceptions. If they throw it and I can get it, I'm gonna get it before [the WR] can get it."
It's a lesson Dak Prescott himself has learned from going against Diggs daily, and isn't afraid to admit.
"I've learned in practice when and where to not throw at Trevon Diggs," said the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback. "When he gets those INTs, I'm like, 'Yea, I understand.'"
Diggs is drawing the praise of many both outside of and inside of the Cowboys organization, and rightfully so, considering what he's doing has never been seen before in Dallas, which says a lot when you consider their dominance in the Hall of Fame -- with more defensive backs (like Walls) still set to be immortalized sooner or later.
"Diggs is balling, bro," said rookie first-round pick Micah Parsons. "But you gotta remember, he's a guy that comes in everyday and competes. He wants to be on the best receiver. It's something I expect now. It's not a matter of if -- it's when he's gonna get [another INT]."
The franchise interception record for a single season is 11, also set by Walls, and Diggs is already nearly halfway there with 13 games left to play in the regular season. He's currently on pace to blow it out of the water and stroll right past the league record in that category as well.
"I don't know what the [INT] record is," said Randy Gregory after seeing what Diggs is doing in 2021. "But if he keeps this up, he'll have it by midseason. ... Sh*t."
After matching up against Diggs for the first time ever, Darnold likely agrees.
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