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New England Patriots' J.C. Jackson grabs the NFL lead in interceptions

New England Patriots
New England Patriots' J.C. Jackson (#27)
Amaar Burton
ANALYST
Modified 16 Nov 2020, 13:15 IST
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New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson has the most interceptions in the NFL right now, and he's creeping up on an NFL record for consecutive games with an interception.

In the Patriots' 23-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, J.C. Jackson picked off a pass by reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson (no relation) in the second quarter that allowed New England to take a 13-10 lead into halftime.

It was J.C. Jackson's sixth interception of the season, which leads the NFL. It was also the fifth game in a row in which Jackson intercepted a pass. The NFL record for consecutive games with an interception is eight, which Oakland Raiders safety Tommy Morrow accomplished in 1962-63.

Jackson's six interceptions this season are one better than Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, who has five.


Patriots CB Jackson keeps collecting interceptions

Jackson is a third-year pro out of Maryland who helped the New England Patriots win Super Bowl LIII in his rookie season. That was the 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams that is the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in history.

In just two and a half pro seasons, Jackson has racked up 14 career interceptions, and he hasn't even been a full-time starter during that time.

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While interceptions thrown by a quarterback is a go-to stat for fans and media to judge a QB's performance, one can argue that interceptions collected by a defender is an overrated or tricky statistic. Some of the best defensive backs in football don't get a lot of interceptions because their coverage skills are so good that they rarely have opportunities to get interceptions.

For example, L.A. Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey is arguably the best cover man in the NFL. On Sunday, he was assigned to stick Seattle Seahawks star wideout DK Metcalf. For most of the game, Metcalf wasn't even targeted by QB Russell Wilson because Ramsey had him shadowed so well. Metcalf finished the game with two catches for just 28 yards. He was targeted four times. Ramsey had two tackles, and didn't get many chances to get an interception.

J.C. Jackson isn't known as a "shutdown" cornerback who will blanket the opposing team's best receiver. That label would go to his teammate, All-Pro CB Stephon Gilmore, last season's NFL Defensive Player of the Year. While Gilmore covers receivers so tight that he rarely gets INT opportunities, Jackson benefits from having quarterbacks throw more often in his direction. The tradeoff is that while Jackson will give up more catches and get beat for touchdowns more often than Gilmore, Jackson will also be able to get more interceptions.

This season, J.C. Jackson is capitalizing on those opportunities at a historic rate.

Published 16 Nov 2020, 13:15 IST
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