Mac Jones Dec 24, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) checks with head coach Bill Belichick, left, and senior football advisor Matt Patricia, second from left, during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the New England Patriots 22-18 on Saturday in a game that featured a Patriots offense that swung wildly from incompetent to potent, though they fell just short. However, it was a specific play involving New England quarterback Mac Jones and Bengals cornerback Eli Apple that caught many people’s attention.

With 6:17 left in the fourth quarter, Jones attempted to avoid a sack by Bengals safety Vonn Bell and flicked the ball to the turf. Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt thought the ball was live, picked it up, and ran down the sidelines. Jones tried to chase him but when he realized he couldn’t catch Pratt, he instead dove into Apple’s legs, taking him out of the play.

After the game, Apple didn’t hold back, saying that it was a dirty play.

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

On Monday, Mike Florio reported that the NFL was reviewing the play for potential discipline. “A suspension is currently believed to be unlikely, but it is one of the potential punishments,” he said.

Jones also shared his two cents on the play on Monday. During his weekly appearance on WEEI, he said he had no intention of trying to hurt Apple and was just acting on instinct.

“I went down in front of him to kind of get in the way, to stop him from slowing down Tyquan [Thornton], who could make the tackle there … It’s a split-second decision and there’s a lot that goes into it…definitely no intention to hurt anyone on that play.”

Jones has a history of making plays considered to be dirty and has been accused of intentionally trying to hurt defenders on more than one occasion, so it’s going to be hard for many around the NFL world to take him at his word.

[Mike Reiss]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to