For Cordarrelle Patterson, a flashy kickoff return deserved a flashy celebration
CHICAGO — It was, as the kids say, a bold move.
Kickoff returner Cordarrelle Patterson and cornerback and special teamer J.C. Jackson’s decision to high-five near the 5-yard line as Patterson was returning a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown would have been daring in any situation, especially so for a Bill Belichick-coached team that emphasizes discipline.
Patterson made an incredible play, but yikes. He had to slow down to make the high five, and was drifting toward the sideline. Something tells us someone on the sideline wouldn’t have been pleased with that decision, especially after Patterson had lost a fumble on an earlier return.
Patterson seemed pleased after the game. He said the celebration wasn’t premature, just him having fun. He didn’t think the touchdown was about redemption, either.
“Not redemption man, I’m a playmaker, man,” Patterson said. “I hold myself accountable as the best kickoff returner in the league and that’s what I stand for, so every time I’m out there I’ve got to be aggressive and approach it like it’s my last. Every time I do something bad it’s going to sit in my head but the next play, you’ve got to keep going.”
“That was big time,” Jackson said. “After [Patterson] made the fumble and came back, that’s how you make up for the fumble.”
It was a day of redemption for Jackson, too, who struggled in coverage with penalties.
Jackson drew three flags, two of which were accepted. Two were for illegal use of the hands (only one was accepted) and the other was for pass interference.
“I accidentally hit guys in the face and they just called penalties,” said Jackson, who said Taylor Gabriel, at 5 feet 8 inches, made it harder for Jackson to keep his hands out of his face on the pass interference. Jackson’s penalties cost the Patriots 19 yards and gave the Bears two fresh sets of downs.
Jackson’s redemption came from an interception, which Stephon Gilmore noted required the same type of handwork that Jackson took too far on the penalties. The veteran told the rookie to keep being aggressive during the game, and said afterward that even rookies who use their hands well tend to struggle with penalties since they have to adjust from the college game where they can press receivers down the field.
“He’s got great hands, some of the best hands I’ve seen, so just keep fighting,” Gilmore said.
Keep fighting he did, as did Patterson. If nothing else, the situation has potential to offer an interesting window into the Belichick psyche: Does one error in discipline plus one big play even things out? And what if you throw in a showy celebration?
Credit where it’s due, they kept it interesting.