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The Top 20 Patriots Moments of 2021: Number 7

Our offseason countdown continues with the Number 7 Most Memorable Patriots Moment of 2021.

NFL: JAN 02 Jaguars at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

And the dead time in the NFL marches slowly on.

This is one of my favorite times of year, for a lot of reasons. Summer is just starting to get underway. There are a bunch of long weekends on the immediate horizon. It’s warm and it’s beautiful and we’ll all be beaching and grilling to our hearts’ content. And it’s almost time for training camp and football on the brain until next February.

We’re also absolutely smoking along on our countdown of the Top 20 Most Memorable New England Patriots Moments of 2022. At this pace, I’ll be able to finish just before the first preseason game in August. So let’s keep the party going.

The list so far:

20. The Patriots trade Stephon Gilmore to the Panthers for a sixth-round pick.
19. A Week 1 goal line fumble costs the Patriots the game at home against the Miami Dolphins.
18. A four interception day secures New England’s first win of the season against the New York Jets.
17. Mac Jones hits Nelson Agholor for the first TD of the season against the Miami Dolphins.
16. A 41-yard Kendrick Bourne TD reception opens the game up against the Tennessee Titans.
15. A late Nick Folk field goal caps off a 15 play game-winning drive over the Houston Texans.
14. Mac Jones is named the starter over Cam Newton.
13. Nick Folk can’t connect on a 56 yard FG attempt to complete the comeback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
12. An Adrian Phillips pick-six seals the game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
11. Kendrick Bourne connects with Nelson Agholor to kick off an epic beatdown of the New York Jets.
10. A quick out to Jakobi Meyers results in his first career touchdown against the Cleveland Browns.
9. Free Agent Frenzy.
8. The Patriots obliterate the Jacksonville Jaguars and find themselves back in the NFL Playoffs.

I have a standing rule on these countdowns that any time a player sets a record, it automatically makes the list. This is one of those such moments.

7. A diving interception gives J.C. Jackson an impressive record.

There’s not much to say about the Patriots vs. Jaguars matchup that I haven’t already broken down in my Number 8 Moment last week; it was a complete beatdown, the Patriots hung 50 on the Jags, Mac Jones thoroughly outplayed Trevor Lawrence, and the win got New England back in the playoffs where they belonged. However, I deliberately left one moment out in that article, as it for sure deserved its own moment in the spotlight.

The game was already pretty much in the bag as the first half wound down; New England was sitting on a comfortable 21-3 lead as the two minute warning approached with the chance to receive the 3rd quarter kickoff and go up 28-3. The Patriots had scored touchdowns on every single one of their first half possessions, so there was no reason to think that the Jags would be able to stop them. All they needed to do was keep Lawrence and the Jacksonville offense out of the end zone on this final 2nd quarter possession to ensure there was no shift in momentum.

On 2nd and 6 from the Jacksonville 40, Lawrence, with time to throw, had a designed out cut route for Tavon Austin. Austin, however was unable to get separation from J.C. Jackson, who was completely blanketing him in coverage. Lawrence released the pass as Austin continued to hand fight with Jackson, but Jackson got the inside track and was able to make the diving interception. He was able to make a brief return to the JAX 43 before he was brought down right at the two minute warning. Six plays, 43 yards, and a minute later, Mac Jones connected with Jakobi Meyers to make the score 28-3 and completely squash any comeback attempt the Jags could hope to make. After all, we all know that nobody — and I mean NOBODY — ever comes back from a 28-3 deficit.

On its own, this was a nice, yet unspectacular, play; Lawrence really shouldn’t have made that throw, and while Jackson did the work to put himself in the right spot and make the interception, he’s certainly had more athletic, and more meaningful, picks in his career. However, with the pick, Jackson tied the NFL record for most interceptions for any fourth year player in the league.It was his eighth INT of the season and 25th of his career. Jackson was now in some fairly mighty company with Lester Hayes and Everson Walls, both of whom had All-Pro careers.

Unfortunately, J.C. Jackson played himself into a well-deserved payday out in Los Angeles, and so all interceptions he makes as he adds to his numbers will be with the Chargers. But in his four years in New England, he quickly grew into a fan favorite, not to mention one of the best corners in the league. It’s easy to forget that Jackson went completely undrafted in 2018 (you may remember a highly touted cornerback named Duke Dawson, who the Pats drafted in the second round that year), but like so many others, he shined in preseason, took advantage of every meaningful rep he got, and has now accrued generational wealth for himself and his family. It’s sad that he’s gone, but it’s impossible not to be happy for him and appreciative of the time he gave the Patriots. Jackson will be showing up again on this countdown, but setting this record is well deserved here at Number 7.

Check out the pick here.