Despite a disappointing end to the team’s 2021 campaign, a handful of New England Patriots continue to earn individual accolades for their efforts. On Monday, three Patriots players were named to the Pro Football Writers of America’s (PFWA) All-AFC team.
Cornerback J.C. Jackson, outside linebacker Matthew Judon and special teams ace Matthew Slater earned the honors for New England, as the PFWA announced their selections for the 2021 season.
Jackson started all 17 games for the Patriots, playing a major role in establishing New England as one of the top pass-defenses in the NFL. He ranked second in the league with eight interceptions (behind Dallas’ Trevon Diggs with 11) and first with 23 passes defensed. Jackson also earned his first career forced fumble and interception-returned for a touchdown, while compiling 44 solo tackles He is joined on the All-AFC cornerback depth chart by Xavien Howard of the Miami Dolphins.
Judon provided a notable boost to the Patriots pass rush in 2021. The 29-year-old set a new career high with 12.5 sacks in his first year with the club. His season sack total tied a record under head coach Bill Belichick. The Grand Valley State product started 16 of his 17 appearances. He totaled 60 tackles, including 14 for loss, to go with one fumble recovery and batted pass. Pittsburgh Steelers’ pass rusher T.J. Watt was selected along with Judon at outside linebacker.
Slater once again provided the foundation for New England’s special teams, serving as New England’s special teams captain for the 11th consecutive year. The 36-year-old led the Pats’ special teams’ group in taking nearly 80 percent of the snaps. Slater earned 12 tackles on the season. He was joined on the list by New Orleans Saints’ J.T. Gray, who earned All-NFL honors in the kicking game.
Jackson, Judon and Slater were also selected to the Pro Bowl in December. Jackson and Slater earned second-team All-Pro selections from the Associated Press in January.