Patriots

Matt Judon told J.C. Jackson to go end a Panthers drive: ‘Then he ended the drive’

"That was a hell of a feeling."

Matt Judon J.C. Jackson
New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson runs for a touchdown after an interception against the Carolina Panthers. AP Photo/John Bazemore

J.C. Jackson already had one interception on Sunday when he told Matt Judon he wanted to get off the field.

The Patriots were fighting back against a Panthers drive that spanned the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter, during which Panthers QB Sam Darnold led his team through eight plays and 65 yards. Jackson was ready to have a seat and watch the fourth quarter of a game the Patriots had mostly wrapped up.

Judon gave him some advice.

“I said, ‘Bro, last time they drove the ball, pick six,” Judon told Jackson meaningfully.

Jackson had already taken one of Darnold’s passes the length of the field for a touchdown — the first pick-six of his NFL career.

Advertisement:

“Go end the drive,” Judon recalled telling Jackson later when speaking to the media after the Patriots’ 24-6 win. “And he ended the drive. So shoot.”

Jackson came up with two of the Patriots’ three interceptions. The Patriots pressured Darnold on the first, and Darnold overthrew his receiver. Jackson was in the right place, and he took it 88 yards for a touchdown.

Toward the end, Jackson found himself flagging — pursued by Carolina wide receiver Robby Anderson.

“I was like, ‘Oh s—,’ I was going to get caught,” Jackson said, drawing laughs from reporters present. “I got gassed. When I got to the 30, the 20 from there, I got tight. I’m looking back, zig-zagging so he won’t catch me. But he was pretty close.”

In the end, however, he outran the speedy wideout and delivered a devastating blow to the Panthers — turning a likely scoring drive into seven points and a 21-6 lead for the Patriots.

“That man was gone,” Christian Barmore said. “I had the guard right there, I was right there chasing. … But he was already gone. That man fast.”

The other interception belonged to Jamie Collins, who showed absurdly quick reflexes snagging a pass from Darnold at point-blank range.

“It’s just something about me that’s always just going after the ball,” Collins said. “I don’t know if it’s because I used to play quarterback, I don’t too much touch the ball a lot. It’s just something I always do. I just do stuff. I just do it.”

More from Patriots postgame

– The Patriots ran for 151 yards on 39 total carries, gaining big yardage at important times. Rookie Rhamondre Stevenson was particularly good, picking up 62 yards on 10 attempts.

Advertisement:

“I think [Rhamondre] showed great toughness and effort and it’s just fun to watch him make plays, he’s an exciting player,” Patriots quarterback Mac Jones said. “He just makes the right cut most of the time. He’s just trying to figure out how to do it in this offense, and he’s starting to click. I think that’s important. Mondre has done a great job along with all the other backs.

– To no one’s surprise, Jones believed there were things he could do better.

“I just have to look at myself in the mirror and figure out what I can do better, but I don’t think we quit,” Jones said. “We just tried to play the full 60 minutes to the best of our ability. I think it’s just a great example of a good team win.”

Jones added that he believes he can clean up some communication issues that will solve “95 percent” of the Patriots’ problems.

Also: “The big thing for us is just don’t turn the ball over, and I had two turnovers today,” Jones said, referencing an interception and a fumble. “That’s just not good enough. And I’ll look at it and see what I can do better.”

Advertisement:

Jones finished with 139 passing yards on 12-for-18 passing.

– Jones’s interception went to an old friend: Stephon Gilmore, who picked off a pass intended for Jakobi Meyers.

“I threw the ball right to the guy,” Jones said, chuckling. “A lot of people could catch that. I just have to look at the film and see where I could have thrown it better.

“But he’s a great player. They are good on defense, they have a good pass defense. So respect to those guys.”

Center David Andrews said everyone “loved” Gilmore in the Patriots’ locker room.

“He was a great teammate, ultimate competitor, shared a lot of great moments with him,” Andrews said. “So always happy for someone like that. So he was great to have in our locker room, and he’s obviously a great player.”

– In the first quarter, Barmore was involved in a funny play — as two teammates tried to wrestle Panthers tight end Tommy Tremble to the ground, Barmore came flying over the top and pancaked all three players with a massive tackle.

“I needed to get some piece of that, you know what I’m saying?” Barmore said with a huge laugh.

What did his teammates think of his flying tackle?

“They was like, ‘Hell yeah, B-More,'” Barmore said. “Cause like, he wasn’t going down, so I said, ‘Oh yeah, we going down. Pow.’ It’s a good hustle.”

– The Jaguars improbably took down the Bills in a 9-6 rock fight on Sunday that ended shortly after the Patriots beat the Panthers. Suddenly, the 5-4 Patriots are just a half-game out of first in the AFC East despite their difficult start to the season.

Advertisement:

“Guys don’t blink over here,” Collins said. “There’s a lot of personalities on the team. It’s fun coming to work every day. I’m excited to go to work every day because of the guys that’s in the building, the guys I work with. Grown men, everybody take their job serious, it’s fun. We’re going to work when we work, but at the end of the day, we’re going to have fun working.”

Judon said the Patriots have been taking each game on its own.

“We’ve got to stack the wins, and not get too far ahead of ourselves,” Judon said. “We have good opponents in the next coming weeks, and we have a short week coming up so we have to make sure we stack these wins.”

The Patriots take on the Browns next Sunday at 1 p.m. looking for their fourth win in a row.

“We’ve been working hard each week,” Andrews said. “I think we’ve seen some of the fruits of those labors.”

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com