FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has been called out for making “dirty” plays in the past. And the second-year signal-caller is being criticized for doing the same during New England’s 22-18 loss against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bengals cornerback Eli Apple acknowledged how he thought Jones made a “dirty” play on him with 6:17 left in regulation and the Patriots trailing 22-12.
“Of course I did (notice it). He tripped me,” Apple told NESN.com after Cincinnati’s win. “I thought it was a dirty play. He’s done that before, I’ve seen it.”
Apple added: “Yeah, well, they’re going home now.”
On the play referenced, Jones tried to escape the grasp of Bengals safety Vonn Bell and flicked the ball forward in hopes of avoiding a sack. Before the play ultimately was ruled an incomplete pass and intentional grounding on Jones, Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt picked up what he thought to be a live ball and ran down the sideline. Patriots receiver Tyquan Thornton ran in pursuit of Pratt, but was unable to catch up to him. Jones ran behind.
With Pratt at the 25-yard line and Jones clearly unable to catch up to him, the Patriots quarterback went to the ground one yard in front of the hard-running Apple. The play of Jones led Apple to crash to the ground at the 25-yard line, ending up on top of Jones. Again, Jones was out of the play by that point.
(You can watch the play here.)
For what it’s worth, Jones later was flagged for unnecessary roughness after a game-altering fumble by running back Rhamondre Stevenson.
The 2021 first-round selections has been called out for “dirty” plays in the past. Carolina Panthers linebacker Brian Burns criticized Jones for the quarterback twisting his ankle last season on a play which came after a New England turnover. Jones took part in some questionable slides against the Chicago Bears earlier this season, too.