Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles had insulted Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman.
Bortles, a second-year quarterback, didn’t insult Norman verbally. He insulted Norman by doing his job.
Late in the second quarter of Carolina’s 20-9 win against the Jaguars, Bortles threw a touchdown pass to Rashad Greene, who was covered by Norman.
On the next Jaguars’ possession in the third quarter, Norman intercepted Bortles, ran 30 yards and pointed at Bortles as he went into the end zone for a touchdown.
“When my chance came I took it, and I ran with it,” a fired-up Norman said after the game. “Bortles was playing with us a good bit in the second quarter and I wanted to come out and show him, I’m not nobody to play with. I guess he didn’t read the scouting report.
“I was insulted. The whole second quarter I was like bro really doesn’t read the scouting report.”
I wanted to come out and show him, I’m not nobody to play with. I guess he didn’t read the scouting report.
Josh Norman, on Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles
Norman also had a forced fumble as the Jaguars drove inside the Carolina 20 that he (sort of) recovered.
Bortles found Allen Hurns for a short pass for 3 yards with more than 9 minutes left in the first half. Hurns took it to the 17 before Norman punched at the ball to jar it loose.
Veteran cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman is better known for this tactic, but the Peanut Punch made its way to Carolina after the Panthers signed Tillman in the offseason, and he’s doled out some advice to the younger players on how to get the ball out. But Tillman took no credit after the game.
“That’s all Josh,” Tillman said. “That has nothing to do with me. That’s his moment. That’s him being a playmaker.”
Norman had no intention of trying to tackle Hurns. He was always going for the ball.
“I saw the ball and I was like ... I’m not going to tackle him,” Norman said. “There were three people around him. No, I’m going for the ball. When I see it I’m going to go down with a violent strike and that’s what happened. It came out and was right there on the ground and we picked it up.”
Well, not exactly.
There was an ensuing scrum for the ball. Almost a minute passed before the official ruled it was Carolina’s ball. Norman is credited with the recovery, but he admitted after the game he had it taken away in the pile.
“I ended up getting it and I ended up losing it,” Norman said. “I guess he pointed our way. Hurns, I think he recovered it. But we got the ball.”
When I see it I’m going to go down with a violent strike and that’s what happened. It came out and was right there on the ground and we picked it up.
Josh Norman, on adopting Charles Tillman’s ‘Peanut Punch’ to cause fumbles
Bortles didn’t look Norman’s way for most of the first half until late in the second quarter. The Jaguars drove down the field as middle linebacker Luke Kuechly left with a concussion and Bortles ultimately found Greene in the end zone for a 1-yard score against Norman.
That’s when Norman went to a place in his mind that he only refers to as his dark place.
On first and 20 from the Jacksonville 26 six minutes into the second half, Bortles looked to his right and fired a pass to T.J. Yeldon on a flat route. Norman had seen that route concept on film and practiced breaking on that pass, so he telegraphed the throw and ran into the end zone untouched.
Once in the end zone, Norman galloped as if he were on a horse, paused and then dismounted. Norman’s father has about 13 horses, he said, and Norman has three or four. He said he was riding his horse, Delta, in the end zone.
And if the Jaguars didn’t like him celebrating, he didn’t care.
If I’m out there and I’m going crazy, don’t take it personal. It’s just something to give us some energy to get going.
Josh Norman, on his end zone celebration after scoring on an interception return
“If I’m out there and I’m going crazy, don’t take it personal,” Norman said. “It’s just something to give us some energy to get going. And if they don’t like how I play, don’t throw the ball. It’s that simple. It is what it is. There is no pact between lion and men. You’ve got to go out there and be a dog. Every time you step between the white lines it’s a totally different person. That’s my take and that’s how I approach the game.”
It’s a game that will pay Norman $1.54 million this season and quite probably much more in the years to come. Norman, in his fourth year in Carolina, is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season after he and the Panthers couldn’t come to terms on a contract extension last week.
After the game Norman said he was blessed to be in this situation and was leaving it in God’s hands.
“If he chooses to be here, we will and if not … either way it goes I’m in his will,” Norman said. “His perfect will is better than mine.”
On Sunday, Norman had a divine start to his contract year.