Mac Jones is defending himself after the Panthers accused him of making a “completely dirty” play in the Patriots’ 24-6 win in Week 9.
The play in question occurred in the first quarter, when Jones was strip-sacked by Panthers pass rusher Brian Burns. Jones was hit from behind and never saw Burns coming. As a result, the ball squirted out and trickled several yards behind Jones.
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Members of both the Panthers and Patriots chased after the ball. Burns attempted to get up and go for it, but Jones wouldn’t let him. He grabbed Burns’ ankle and appeared to twist it in an awkward fashion.
Burns was injured on the play and left the game briefly. He returned and played a majority of the contest before exiting with an injury to the same ankle. He is expected to be fine despite the injury.
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The Panthers were upset that no penalty was called on the play, and pass rusher Haason Reddick said he was hopeful the NFL would look into the tackle.
That said, Jones is denying that he harbored any ill-will toward Burns on the play. He thought that he was just trying to make a tackle on a ball carrier.
“After I got hit pretty hard, I didn’t really know exactly what was going on,” Jones told WEEI’s “Merloni & Fauria” radio show. “I thought he had the ball, and it was my job to try and make the tackle. That’s pretty much it.
“Obviously, when you get up and see the ball is actually down the field a little bit more — it was just a bang-bang play, and I didn’t mean to hurt anybody or anything like that. I was just trying to tackle him and make the play, because I didn’t really know what was going on.”
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick had a similar answer when asked about Jones’ tackle on “The Greg Hill Show” Monday morning.
“I think [Jones] thought Burns had the ball,” Belichick said.
The Patriots’ defense of Jones’ move is consistent, but we’ll see what the NFL has to say about it. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that the league will look into Jones’ tackle and could fine him for his actions.
The NFL will review #Patriots QB Mac Jones grabbing Brian Burns’ ankle Sunday as part of its normal process, I’m told. Jones faces a possible fine, but nothing more than that.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 8, 2021