The rivalry between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots took an unexpected twist on Sunday when Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner accused Patriots quarterback Mac Jones of hitting him with a low blow.
The alleged incident took place in the fourth quarter of New England’s 15-10 win at MetLife Stadium as Jones bumped into Gardner following a failed quarterback sneak.
“He reached out to me to get me to help him up,” Gardner, who pushed Jones into the ground in anger, told reporters after the game. “I just moved his hand out of the way. He got up and then came up to me like ‘Good job.’ While he was saying that, he hit me in my private parts. I didn’t react like I really wanted to. I definitely wasn’t expecting that. First time for everything I guess. . . . He’s trying to prevent me from having kids in the future.”
While Jones denied any wrongdoing, ProFootball Talk’s Mike Florio has reported that the NFL is investigating the altercation. Taking to the social media platform X on Monday, Gardner posted a video of the incident along with the caption “Posting this so I don’t get fined lol.”
Posting this so I don’t get fined lol pic.twitter.com/2KjcAVTNsW
— SAUCE GARDNER (@iamSauceGardner) September 25, 2023
While the video posted by the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year might be too far away to be considered conclusive evidence, a more zoomed-in version posted by The Athletic‘s Diana Russini shows Jones’ hand appearing to make contact with Gardner’s groin.
Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner said after the game against the Patriots that Mac Jones hit him in the “private parts.”This video sent from a league source is a closer view. pic.twitter.com/UTayhuu6iB
— Dianna Russini (@DMRussini) September 25, 2023
This isn’t the first time Jones has been accused of dirty play. Last season, the Alabama product was fined on at least three separate occasions for on-field incidents, including one in which he dived at then-Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple’s knees during a fumble return. Even during his rookie season in 2021, Carolina Panthers pass rusher Brian Burns accused Jones of making a dirty play when the quarterback grabbed his ankle while fighting to recover a fumble.
It remains to be seen what will come of the NFL’s investigation of Jones’ latest on-field incident. But regardless of whether he’s issued a punishment, the altercation will only add to the perception that the Patriots quarterback is a “dirty” player.