The NFL is taking a look at accusations made by New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner following his team’s loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday, according to a report by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
The second-year defender claimed that Patriots quarterback Mac Jones had hit him below the belt following an unsuccessful quarterback sneak in the fourth quarter. Even though Jones ended up on the ground after a brief scuffle, no flags were thrown by the officials and play resumed shortly thereafter.
When the game was over, Gardner shared his side of the story with the media.
“That’s probably the first time that’s ever happened to me,” he said. “He got tackled. He reached out to me to get me to help him up. 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.”
On Monday, Gardner posted a video of the incident. The short clip does show the two players interact, but does not show any definitive proof one way or the other.
Posting this so I don’t get fined lol pic.twitter.com/2KjcAVTNsW— SAUCE GARDNER (@iamSauceGardner) September 25, 2023
Another angle of shared by Dianna Russini of The Athletic also did not give a clear view at the alleged act.
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
Jones himself said after the game that he was “just trying to get the first down” and that situations such as this one “can get pretty physical.” He gave a similar answer when asked about the incident on WEEI’s Jones & Mego on Monday.
“Sauce is one of the best corners in the NFL, so I have a ton of respect for him,” he said. “On that play, nothing was intentional. I just got up and went back to the huddle, and that’s it.”
The accusation made by Gardner is not the first of its kind against the Patriots’ third-year quarterback. He was not fined for a 2021 play where he grabbed Carolina Panthers defender Brian Burns’ ankle on an interception return, but had to pay a total of $23,976 for two infractions during a game against Cincinnati last December.
Jones and the Patriots ended up beating Gardner and the Jets 15-10 to improve to 1-2 on the year.