Patriots’ Mac Jones says no bad intentions with ‘dirty’ block on Eli Apple: ‘I’m just trying to help the team win’

The Cincinnati Bengals beat the New England Patriots, 22-18, at Gillette Stadium on Christmas Eve in a game that involved what Bengals cornerback Eli Apple called quarterback “dirty play.” Patriots back Mac Jones. The NFL apparently sided with Apple as Jones was reportedly fined $11,139 for a low block, according to Pro Football Talk. The hit happened during a change of possession, at which point all blocks below the waist are considered illegal.

After recovering a fumble, Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt was running towards the end zone with members of both teams chasing behind him. As Apple went to help clear the way for Pratt as he followed him to the end zone, Jones dove into Apple’s legs, who hit the ground on the play. Here’s a look at what happened in the fourth quarter:

Asked about the game after the game and if he saw what Jones did, Apple replied, via, “Of course I did [notice it]. He tripped me.”

Apple also accused Jones of doing it before that. “I thought it was a dirty game. He’s done it before, I’ve seen it.”

Jones explained his actions on the play during his WEEI radio interview on Monday, according to ESPN: “I went down in front of him to keep him from slowing down Tyquan, who obviously could tackle there. So just in kind of fell in front of him, trying to stop a fast guy from reaching another fast guy.

“It’s a split-second decision and there’s a lot of things that come into play. You’re trying to compete, it’s a physical game. So just try to help the team win. I I have all respect for Eli and the Bengals. They played a great game. So there’s no hard feelings and certainly no intention of hurting anyone on this game. I also don’t believe that when I play quarterback, that’s what [the defense is intending to do]; I also get a lot of beatings. We are all playing hardball. It’s just part of the game.”

Jones said he was unaware the play was deemed incomplete and muffled.

“No, honestly, I was just playing the part, I saw Tyquan running, and we were running to get him,” Jones said. “At this point you have to play the play to the end, because you don’t know what’s going on – if they’re going to see it again, if they’re not going to see it again. So you had to play it through and try to play the right game and slow everything down.”

The touchdown was called off, as officials ruled it an incomplete pass opposed to a fumble.

The Patriots’ offense has struggled all season, and the Bengals’ game was no exception, with a less than mediocre game and another narrow loss. New England sits at 7-8 and is still fighting for a playoff spot. He has two tough regular season division games left, with the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills.

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