J.C. Jackson’s first interception Sunday afternoon required virtually no effort. It was the ensuing sprint that forced the Patriots cornerback to empty the tank.
Sam Darnold effectively gift-wrapped a pick for Jackson halfway through the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium, and the fourth-year pro had a clear path to paydirt. But an 88-yard dash is an 88-yard dash, and that task certainly isn’t made any easier when you’re coming off a serious illness that forced you to miss a pair of practices.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson ultimately couldn’t catch Jackson, whose first career NFL touchdown gave New England a comfortable second-half lead. But the Pats’ top corner wasn’t supremely confident he was going to reach the end zone.
“I was like oh (expletive) I hope I don’t get caught,” told reporters after New England’s 24-6 win. “Because I had got gassed. When I got to the 30, the 20 my legs had gotten tight so I’m looking back. I’m going zig zag so he won’t catch me.”
Jackson added another pick in the fourth quarter, boosting his 2021 season total to five. Not too shabby for a player who thought he was “about to die” mere days before his two-pick performance.