New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has had to defend himself after coming under fire for laying a “dirty” block this weekend.
Jones was seen going low against Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple as Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt was returning a fumble toward the Patriots’ end zone. Jones, 24, claims he wasn’t trying to injure Apple with his maneuver but rather he was trying to stop him from catching up to Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, who was chasing down the play.
“I went down in front of him to kind of get in the way to stop him from slowing down Tyquan, who obviously could make the tackle there,” Jones said Monday during an appearance on WEEI. “So just kind of went down in front of him, trying to stop a fast guy from getting to another fast guy. It’s a split-second decision and there’s a lot that goes into it. You’re out there trying to compete, it’s a physical game. So just trying to help the team win.
“I have all the respect for Eli and the Bengals. They played a great game. So there’s no hard feelings and definitely no intention to hurt anybody on that play. Nor do I believe that when I’m playing quarterback that’s what [the defense is trying to do.] I get hit a lot, too. We’re all out there playing hard. It’s just part of the game.”
The low block didn’t hurt Apple, but he voiced his displeasure with Jones after the Bengals defeated the Patriots, 22-18.
“Of course I did (notice it). He tripped me,” Apple told NESN.com. “I thought it was a dirty play. He’s done that before, I’ve seen it.”
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay also chimed in, responding to a compilation of Jones’ “dirty” plays on Twitter, saying, “Dirty af!!”
The NFL is looking into Jones’ block for a potential fine, but they have already ruled out any suspension.
This isn’t the first controversial play for Mac Jones either. Earlier this season he “unintentionally” kicked Chicago Bears safety Jaquan Brisker in the crotch while sliding and last year he grabbed and rolled over Carolina Panthers edge rusher Brian Burns’ ankle.
The 7-8 Patriots will face off against the 8-7 Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
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