COSTA MESA — Jimmy Fallon recently made fun of Chargers running back Justin Jackson on “The Tonight Show” for his unique hairstyle.
The comedian didn’t go easy on the rookie, calling his spiky orange hair a shiitake mushroom.
For the biggest jab, Fallon joked that Jackson’s previous job occupation was as a feather duster in “The Beauty and the Beast” castle.
Jackson was a good sport about it and asked Fallon for an opportunity to explain himself.
“Let me get on your show and explain,” Jackson tweeted last week.
— Justin Jackson (@J_ManPrime21) December 1, 2018
The 2018 seventh-round pick out of Northwestern probably won’t get that opportunity, but Jackson did redeem himself on a different nationally televised show.
Jackson gave the Chargers a second-half spark last week during a “Sunday Night Football” thriller against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Los Angeles rallied from a 16-point deficit to win 33-30.
Jackson, who ditched the uncommon hairdo, had a hunky 63 rushing yards on eight carries with a striking 18-yard touchdown run.
It was a gorgeous performance that no comedian would dare ridicule.
“The Jimmy Fallon thing was just funny,” Jackson said. “My friend told me I was getting roasted on the show. I was like, ‘Alright, cool, let me try to flip this.’ As for football, I just tried to stay ready and take advantage of my opportunity when I got one.”
Jackson didn’t get his first carry until the third quarter. The Chargers had just two rushing yards in the first half.
After halftime, the Chargers adjusted with better blocking schemes for the running game. Jackson took advantage by hitting the holes in stride, but the rookie also extended plays with shifty cuts to his right, like on his touchdown run that gave the Chargers a 30-23 advantage in the fourth quarter.
Fans of Northwestern weren’t surprised by Jackson’s breakout performance. He’s the all-time leading rusher at the program and rushed for more than 1,000 yards in all four of his seasons with the Wildcats.
“That’s my game, that’s what I did in college, the cuts, and being able to change directions and keep defenses guessing,” Jackson said. “I just try to be me out there.”
Chargers star running back Melvin Gordon sat out last week with a knee injury, but was excited about his teammate’s performance. Gordon tweeted play-by-play support during the game and texted Jackson and Austin Ekeler before with words of encouragement.
“I was excited, I was pumped,” Gordon said. “Knowing you can’t help, I turned into a fanboy. I was texting the running backs … it’s a big stage, why not shine, it’s an opportunity.”
Jackson waited for his opportunity and ran with it.
Entering last week, Jackson only had 12 carries on the season. He might surpass that number Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals with Gordon ruled out for the second straight game.
“I missed carrying that rock,” Jackson said.
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