The Carolina Panthers were not happy after their 24-6 loss to the New England Patriots in Week 9. The team’s performance was not the only reason for that: the Panthers also accused Patriots quarterback Mac Jones of dirty play.
What had happened?
Late in the first quarter and with the game in a scoreless tie, Jones was sacked from the blindside by Panthers pass rusher Brian Burns. The rookie quarterback lost the football upon impact, with a scramble for the ball ensuing. Burns was also attempting to reach it, but Jones grabbed him by the ankle to slow him down.
Unfortunately, the defender was injured while trying to free himself from Jones’ grasp:
"I thought it was completely dirty. Hopefully, it’s something that the league addresses," Panthers defender Haason Reddick said of this ankle-grab by Patriots QB Mac Jones against Brian Burns. pic.twitter.com/e30I6M49tS— Bernd Buchmasser (@BerndBuchmasser) November 7, 2021
Burns did eventually return to the game after being evaluated on the sidelines, but his teammates certainly were not happy about the play and the Patriots quarterback’s role in it.
“I definitely thought it was a dirty play,” fellow Carolina linebacker Haason Reddick told reporters after the game. “I actually saw and witnessed the play as it was happening, as I was running, him seeing them over there. First of all, he was trying to trip or kick Burns, and then next thing you notice, I saw him tugging on Burns’ ankle. I thought it was completely dirty. Hopefully, it’s something that the league addresses.”
Neither Jones nor Burns spoke about the play in question after the game. Jones was not asked about it during his own postgame press conference, while Burns was unavailable for comment after leaving the game with another, more severe injury midway through the fourth quarter.
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, however, thought that the officials should have flagged Jones for the ankle-grab.
“Just from looking at the replay, I thought that maybe a foul should have been called,” he said. “I don’t want to call out any other players or anything like that. I’m always gonna protect our guys. It looked like it was an injury that happened after the play, so I was just kind of defending Brian.”
The Burns strip-sack was one of two turnovers forced by the Panthers defense on Sunday; Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore also registered an interception. At the end of the day, however, the efforts were for naught: New England ended up winning in rather convincing fashion, thanks to its own defense coming up with three takeaways.