Bengals cornerback Eli Apple was none too pleased with Patriots quarterback Mac Jones after the Bengals held on for a 22-18 win in Foxborough on Saturday.

Apple, the former Giants first-round pick, took issue with Jones diving low at his legs as Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt was returning a fumble in the fourth quarter that was eventually called back.

“Of course I did (notice it). He tripped me,” Apple told “I thought it was a dirty play. He’s done that before, I’ve seen it.”

The play was ultimately ruled an incomplete pass and intentional grounding by Jones, who threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Jakobi Meyers to bring the Patriots within four. Rhamondre Stevenson later lost a crucial fumble on first-and-goal at the Cincinnati 5-yard line with less than a minute left, and Jones was flagged for unnecessary roughness after the turnover.

Bengals cornerback Eli Apple (20) is hit low by Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) in the fourth quarter on Dec. 24, 2022.
CBS (2)

The 24-year-old Jones was also accused by then-Panthers linebacker Haason Reddick of committing a “completely dirty” play during a Patriots game against Carolina on Nov. 7, 2021, when Jones, while on the ground after losing a fumble, grabbed at Brian Burns’ ankle.

Jones, the No. 15 overall pick in the 2021 draft, finished Saturday’s loss 21-for-33 with 240 yards and two touchdowns. In 12 games this season, Jones has 2,550 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. He was a Pro Bowler as a rookie last season after throwing for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) is sacked during a loss to the Bengals on Dec. 24, 2022.
Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) is sacked during a loss to the Bengals on Dec. 24, 2022.
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The loss hurt the Patriots’ playoff hopes as they dropped to 7-8. The Chargers and Dolphins, each 8-6 with games still to play in Week 16, occupy the last two wild-card spots in the AFC.

The Bengals improved to 11-4 and remain in control of the AFC North. Their flight home on Saturday made an emergency landing at JFK after an engine problem. They switched planes to return to Cincinnati.