J.C. Jackson's 88-yard pick-6 puts Patriots in control of Panthers

CHARLOTTE - New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson returned a gift throw by Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold 88 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter of Sunday's game, highlighting how the Patriots' defense was carrying the day. Jackson's pick-6, the sixth longest in team history, came on a second-and-11 play with just more than seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Patriots led 14-6 but the Panthers were driving at New England's 20-yard line when Darnold executed a play-action fake before rolling out to his left. He was immediately pressured by rookie defensive lineman Christian Barmore, and then outside linebacker Matthew Judon disengaged from tight end Ian Thomas to add a second layer of pressure. That's when Darnold tried to loft a short pass to Thomas, but he overshot him by five yards, instead throwing it right to Jackson.

Jackson did the rest, darting down the field as Panthers receiver Robby Anderson was in pursuit. Jackson looked back a few times, perhaps wondering if he could outlast Anderson.

It was the first pick-6 of Jackson's four-year career. His 21 interceptions are one shy of tying Hall of Famer Mike Haynes for the most through four seasons in Patriots history.