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Patriots rookie J.C. Jackson showed a gift of grab vs. Bears

J.C. Jackson comes up with the ball in the third quarter, leaving Josh Bellamy behind.jeff haynes/AP

FOXBOROUGH — J.C. Jackson received a wardrobe bonus this week.

The Patriots rookie found an extra shirt in his locker Thursday morning — and this one didn’t have his familiar No. 27 on it.

Instead, the T-shirt was adorned with one of the indelible images from New England’s win over the Bears on Sunday: Jackson and teammate Cordarrelle Patterson high-fiving just before the latter waltzed into the end zone to a cap his 95-yard kickoff return.

“They said they’re supposed to be sending more,’’ Jackson said of the novelty items made by 500 Level. “It’s kind of cool.’’

Jackson threw a nice block on Deon Bush, then flew down the field with Patterson before their now-famous snapshot.


It wasn’t the end of the highlights for Jackson in that game, as he rotated in regularly at perimeter cornerback, jumping in for a career-high 31 defensive snaps (“I thought it was more’’) and another 11 on special teams.

Jackson (left) and Patterson do the high-five.barry chin/globe staff

Jackson’s most impressive play (one that is clearly T-shirt worthy) came near the end of the third quarter when he picked off a Mitchell Trubisky pass that seemed destined for — and seemingly in the arms of — Bears receiver Josh Bellamy.

Watching the thievery on film, it’s difficult to pick up exactly when Jackson took possession. Even in slow motion, the ball appears to nestle into Bellamy’s arms as both players dived to the turf.

“I don’t even know, to be honest. I don’t even know how I came up with that football,’’ said Jackson, who agreed that Bellamy really was in a better position to make the grab.

It came down to a battle of wills, said Jackson.

“I feel like I just took it from him,’’ said the undrafted rookie out Maryland. “We both had our hands on the ball and I feel like I wanted it more than he did, so I just ripped it out.’’


The pick halted a Bears march, preserved a 31-24 lead, and acted as a jolt of electricity along the New England sideline as Jackson was mobbed by teammates.

“They were proud of me,’’ said Jackson. “That’s how you get the team going, you make a play like that. Get the offense back on the field. You always want to get Tom Brady back on the field, no question about that.’’

The interception also served as a bit of redemption for Jackson, who earlier had been flagged for a trio of penalties — two for illegal use of hands to the face and a pass interference — and the coaching staff, who stuck with him.

“Playing defensive back, you’ve got have a short-term memory, man,’’ said Jackson. “It’s part of football. You’ve just got to move on to the next play.’’

A good-sized cornerback (though likely a shade smaller than his listed size of 6 feet l inch) with excellent quickness and deep speed, Jackson said he’s still getting used to how the pro game is officiated.

“It’s kind of hard, because I’m a physical corner. I like to press up,’’ said Jackson, who has been whistled for a team-high five penalties. “Coaches say, ‘Keep playing physical.’ They like my physicality, so I’ve just got to keep playing my game and just get my hands down a little bit, try not to hit the receiver in the face.’’


With Eric Rowe nursing a groin injury and Jonathan Jones working a lot in the slot, Jackson likely will continue to rotate with Jason McCourty as the perimeter corner spot opposite Stephon Gilmore.

Coach Bill Belichick said this week that Jackson “keeps competing hard . . . He’s getting better every week, so that’s a good thing.’’

Jackson concurs.

“I feel like they’re getting the most out of me here, man,” said Jackson. “I give it my all. Each and every day I come in this building I try to be better than I was the last day. I love my job. This is what I love to do, so I have no complaints.’’

Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com.