The NFL is looking into an incident from Saturday’s game where New England quarterback Mac Jones appeared to dive at the feet of Bengals cornerback Eli Apple.
During the Patriots’ 22-18 loss to the Bengals in Week 16, Cincinnati defender Germaine Pratt recovered a New England fumble and tried to run it back to the end zone for a touchdown. Jones chased down the play, but instead of trying to tackle Pratt, he threw his body at the feet of Apple, who was chasing down the play himself. Clips circulated on the internet after the game, with many — including Apple — calling the hit dirty.
Now, the league may step in. According to Pro Football Talk, the NFL is reviewing the play for potential discipline, and may have a ruling either Monday or Tuesday. A suspension is not expected, but is within the realm of possibility, according to the report.
The play in question was ultimately ruled an incomplete pass and the fumble was nullified, but Jones has still come under fire.
“He tripped me,” Apple told NESN.com. “I thought it was a dirty play. He’s done that before, I’ve seen it.”
It’s not the first “dirty” incident Jones has been involved in his career. In a game last season against the Panthers, he was strip-sacked by edge rusher Brian Burns, and appeared to yank Burns to the ground by his ankle. In a Week 7 game against the Bears, he appeared to kick safety Jaquan Brisker in the groin while sliding.
It’s been a frustrating season all around for the Patriots, especially on the offensive side of the football. With longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels leaving the team to be the Raiders’ head coach in the offseason, Jones and Co. have struggled. The Patriots are 25th in the NFL in yards per game, while the second-year QB is 27th among all quarterbacks in passer rating after scoring a Pro Bowl berth in his rookie season.
Jones has, on multiple occasions, been seen airing his frustration to the coaching staff on the sideline, which has also rubbed others the wrong way. In the past week alone, two former Patriots legends – Julian Edelman and Vince Wilfork – have ripped Jones for making “pissy faces” on the sideline, in Edelman’s words.