How Mac Jones Explained Controversial Block In Patriots-Bengals

'Just a split-second decision'


Dec 26, 2022

Mac Jones said he was not trying to injure Eli Apple when he dove at the Cincinnati Bengals cornerback’s ankles Saturday afternoon.

The New England Patriots quarterback explained his controversial block — which Apple and others have called a “dirty” play — during a Monday appearance on WEEI.

Jones’ intention, he said, was to prevent Apple from catching up to and blocking Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, who was chasing after Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt following what appeared to be a lost fumble.

“Obviously, 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. “Just kind of went down in front of him and tried to stop a fast guy from getting to another fast guy. Just a split-second decision, and there’s a lot that goes into it. You’re out there trying to compete, and 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. 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, and it’s just part of the game.”

Apple was not injured on the play, but he was not happy about it, either.

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

The NFL is reviewing Jones’ actions, according to multiple reports, and could issue supplemental discipline to the second-year QB, who was not penalized for the hit. Jones reportedly will not be suspended but could be fined.

Jones has avoided fines for other borderline plays in his young NFL career, most notably his ankle grab against Carolina Panthers edge rusher Brian Burns last season.

The Patriots lost to the Bengals 22-18 to fall to 7-8 on the season. They must beat the 8-7 Miami Dolphins this Sunday at Gillette Stadium to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Thumbnail photo via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
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