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Terps in the NFL: J.C. Jackson’s all-around game helps New England clinch playoff berth

Here’s how former Terps performed in Week 17 of the 2021 NFL season.

NFL: NOV 28 Titans at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

New England Patriots star cornerback and Pro Bowl selection J.C. Jackson had one of his more all-around performances of this season on Sunday, en route to a 50-10 victory over Jacksonville that helped the Patriots clinch a playoff berth.

Jackson totaled four tackles, along with a tackle for loss, an interception, and a pass deflection. It was his eighth interception this season, which is second in the NFL behind Dallas’ Trevon Diggs, and his 22nd pass deflection, which leads the league.

Right before halftime, Jackson jumped the passing lane of a pass that was intended from quarterback Trevor Lawrence to veteran wide receiver Tavon Austin and picked the throw off. It was his first interception since Week 12.

Jackson’s four total tackles was his most in a game this season since Week Eight and it was just his second tackle for loss this season. He has recorded a pass deflection in every game since Week Nine and has totaled 12 in that span.

Jackson has set a new career-high in tackles (54), solo tackles (42), pass deflections (22), tackles for loss (2), forced fumbles (1) and is currently one interception shy of tying his career-high of nine from last season.

Jackson began his collegiate career at Florida and then played at Riverside Community College at the JuCo level before starring for the Terrapins. He went undrafted in 2018 and has risen to NFL stardom as one of the league’s best defensive backs and ball hawks.

Jackson, a champion of Super Bowl LIII, and the Patriots have a chance to win the AFC East with a win at Miami next week and a Buffalo loss to the Jets. Jackson has had a remarkable career in just his fourth season in the NFL, but this season is poised to be his most special year individually speaking.

Other performers

  • New York Jets running back Ty Johnson was given more touches on Sunday against Tampa Bay after fellow running back Michael Carter left the game with a concussion and Tevin Coleman and Samaje Perine were inactive. Johnson made the most of his extra opportunities and ran the ball five times for 35 yards and a touchdown, along with three receptions for 47 yards on four targets. It was his second rushing touchdown and fourth total touchdown this season, as well as the fifth total touchdown of his career. Johnson and the Jets nearly did the unthinkable and upset the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they fell short with a last-minute Tom Brady touchdown. It was the Jets’ fifth loss this season that was within one possession. Johnson and New York will finish the season next week against Buffalo.
  • Buffalo Bills star wide receiver Stefon Diggs helped his squad clinch a spot in the playoffs on Sunday against Atlanta. Diggs caught five passes for 52 yards on nine targets. The Bills defeated Atlanta, 29-15, and would clinch the AFC East title with a win over the Jets next week. The two-time Pro Bowl wideout is currently sixth in the NFL in targets (150), tied-seventh in receiving touchdowns (9), eighth in receiving yards (1,144), and 10th in receptions (94). He led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards last season. On Sunday, Diggs wore special designed cleats that honored the life of Hall of Fame NFL head coach, broadcaster, and late legend John Madden after he passed away at the age of 85 last week.
  • Carolina Panthers linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. got back on track Sunday against the one possession loss to New Orleans, the sixth straight loss for the Panthers. Carter recorded six total tackles after having just three last week. The fourth-year linebacker has recorded at least five tackles in 10 of his last 11 games, but Carolina has ultimately struggled and sits towards the bottom of the NFC.
  • Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore struggled mightily in Sunday’s loss. He totaled three receptions for 29 yards on eight targets. His three receptions tied a season-low from Week Nine and his 29 receiving yards was his second least in a game this year. Moore has not eclipsed 100 receiving yards since Week 12 and has not scored a touchdown since Week 11, as he battles some performance struggles. Moore is currently fifth in the NFL in targets (153) and 15th in receptions (86) and receiving yards (1,070). Carolina’s star has had a down year in scoring touchdowns with just four, which is tied for 54th in the NFL. Carolina will finish the season at Tampa Bay next week.
  • Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Yannick Ngakoue continued his success at getting to the opposing quarterback on Sunday. Ngakoue totaled one tackle, a tackle for loss, and four hits on Indianapolis quarterback Carson Wentz. His four quarterback hits was a season-high. Ngakoue and the Raiders sit at 9-7 and in the hunt for a spot in the postseason. They will face the Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) with the winner cementing their playoff berth in a Wild Card spot.
  • Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson totaled two tackles and a quarterback hit on Sunday against the Colts. Jefferson and Ngakoue have started in every game for the Raiders this season and will look to clinch a playoff spot together next week.
  • Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage Jr. made his 16th start of the season on Sunday against Minnesota. Savage did not record a tackle in a game for the first time this season, despite playing in 100% of the Packers’ defensive snaps for the 10th straight game and 14th time this season. With Green Bay’s dominant 37-10 victory over the Vikings, it improved to 13-3 and clinched the No. 1 seed first round bye in the NFC.
  • Los Angeles Rams rookie running back Jake Funk returned home and appeared in one offensive snap and over half of the team’s special teams snaps on Sunday in Baltimore. It was Funk’s first time playing at M&T Bank Stadium since he scored seven touchdowns in the 2015 Maryland 3A State Championship for Damascus High School. Los Angeles has already clinched a playoff berth and it would win the NFC West with a win at home against San Francisco next week.
  • Antoine Brooks Jr. appeared in a game for the Los Angeles Rams for the first time since Week 14. Brooks did not record a stat, but he played in almost half of the team’s special teams snaps. The second-year defender has continued to work his way onto the field for Los Angeles.
  • Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Keandre Jones played in nearly 60% of the special teams snaps on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bengals knocked off Kansas City, 34-31, to clinch their first AFC North title since 2015. Jones and the Bengals (10-6) will face Cleveland on the road next week before appearing in the playoffs.
  • Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Michael Dunn saw his playing time diminish on Monday Night Football against the Steelers. Dunn, who started and played every offensive snap in each of the last two games, did not play on offense and only appeared in two special teams snaps this week. The Browns had players activated off of the Reserve/COVID-19 list, forcing Dunn to take back his role of a usual special teams contributor. The Browns fell to Pittsburgh on the road.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers running back Trey Edmunds was sent back to the practice squad after last week’s game, but was then elevated to the active roster prior to Monday Night Football. Edmunds appeared in seven special teams snaps and did not record a stat. It was his second consecutive active game for Pittsburgh.
  • Steelers running back Anthony McFarland Jr. remained on the Reserve/COVID-19 list this week after being placed on it on Dec. 23.
  • Seattle Seahawks tight end Tyler Mabry was on the practice squad this week.
  • Safety Sean Davis remained on the Patriots’ practice squad this week.
  • Offensive lineman Derwin Gray remained on the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad this week.
  • Detroit Lions linebacker Josh Woods was placed on injured reserve last week after suffering a neck injury in Week 15 against Arizona, which will effectively end his season.
  • Patriots defensive lineman Byron Cowart was designated to return by New England on Oct. 20. The Patriots had three weeks from then to activate him off the PUP or leave him there for the season.