After an apparent fumble with 6:18 remaining in the fourth quarter was returned by Bengals’ linebacker Germaine Pratt, Tyquan Thornton and Jones were the lone Patriots left to chase him down. As Jones’ hopes of catching him were slim, the quarterback dropped to the ground in front of Apple — who was also chasing the play from behind.
Not sure about this move from Mac Jones. pic.twitter.com/NlXdkknko8— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) December 24, 2022
Making his weekly appearance on WEEI, Jones addressed the play and explained that there was no intent to injuring Apple.
“I went down in front of him to kind of get in the way to stop him from slowing down Tyquan, who obviously could make the tackle there,” he said. “So, just kind of went down in front of him, trying to stop a fast guy from getting to another fast guy. It’s a split-second decision and there’s a lot that goes into it. You’re out there trying to compete, and it’s a physical game. So just trying to help the team win.
“I have all the respect for Eli and the Bengals. They played a great game. So, there’s no hard feelings and definitely no intention to hurt anybody on that play. Nor do I believe that when I’m playing quarterback, that’s what [the defense is intending to do]. I get hit a lot, too. We’re all out there playing hard. It’s just part of the game.”
The return did not even count, however, as referee Craig Wrolstad blew the play dead and ruled it an incomplete pass.
“No,” Jones said when asked if he knew the play was blown dead. “Honestly was just playing the play, I saw Tyquan running, and we were running to get him. At that point you got to play the play, play it all the way through, because you don’t know what’s happening — if they’re going to review it, if they’re not going to review it. So just had to play it through and try to make the right play and slow everything down.”
The play is now being reviewed by the league as part of their on-field code of conduct for players. Jones is expected to receive a fine for his actions, but a suspension is likely out of the picture.