New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones had to defend himself after being criticized for laying down a “dirty” block this weekend.
Jones was seen low against Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple as Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt returned a fumble to the Patriots’ end zone. Jones, 24, says he wasn’t trying to hurt Apple with his move, but rather to prevent him from catching Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, who was chasing the play.
“I went down in front of him to keep him from slowing down Tyquan, who obviously could tackle there,” Jones said in an appearance on Monday. on WEEI. “So just kind of fell 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 of things that come into play. You’re out there trying to compete, it’s a physical game. So just trying to help the team win.
“I have all respect for Eli and the Bengals. They played a great game. So there’s no hard feelings and certainly no intention to hurt anyone on this play. I don’t believe either. that when I play quarterback, that’s what [the defense is trying to do.] I also get a lot of beatings. We are all playing hardball. It’s just part of the game.”
The low block didn’t hurt Apple, but he did express his displeasure with Jones after the Bengals defeated the Patriots, 22-18.
“Of course I did (mind you). He tripped me,” Apple told NESN.com. “I thought it was a dirty game. 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 reviewing Jones’ block for a potential fine, but they’ve already ruled out any suspensions.
Nor is it Mac Jones’ first controversial piece. Earlier this season he “unintentionally” kicked Chicago Bears safety Jaquan Brisker in the crotch while sliding and last year he grabbed and rolled the ankle of the Panthers edge carrier from the Caroline Brian Burns.
The 7-8 Patriots will face the 8-7 Miami Dolphins on Sunday.