Patriots' Mac Jones Reportedly Will Be Fined $11K for Low Hit on Bengals' Eli Apple

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 26, 2022

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones reportedly will be fined $11,139 for his low hit on Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple on Saturday, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network had previously reported Jones would not be suspended.

Jones appeared to go out of his way to take out Apple's legs after a Cincinnati fumble recovery. He was chasing linebacker Germaine Pratt, who had scooped up the ball, and then appeared to target Apple behind the play.

Apple accused Jones of being a dirty player after the game.

"Of course I did [notice it]. He tripped me," he told NESN's Sean T. McGuire. "I thought it was a dirty play. He's done that before; I've seen it."

NFL Twitter sided with Apple:

Ross Tucker @RossTuckerNFL

So Mac Jones laid down instead of tackling Chandler Jones and then does this? <a href="https://t.co/QYH1Ns7Lua">pic.twitter.com/QYH1Ns7Lua</a>

Charean Williams @NFLCharean

Mac Jones has earned his reputation as one of the dirtiest players in the league. <a href="https://t.co/gFHLZ9cslb">https://t.co/gFHLZ9cslb</a>

Dov Kleiman @NFL_DovKleiman

Mac Jones is a dirty player - Compilation video from 4 different incidents from his two-year career. <a href="https://t.co/LFDUugodvA">pic.twitter.com/LFDUugodvA</a>

Jones provided his take on the play during an appearance on WEEI, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com.

"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. 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, 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."

It isn't the first time Jones has been accused of dirty play by an opponent. In 2021, Carolina Panthers edge-rusher Brian Burns called him out for grabbing at his leg after a strip-sack:

"Watching the replay and watching all the angles and everything, I think it's some bull. I think it's some bull for him to take his legs—because my main thing is he took his legs and he swept the one leg I had up, you know what I mean? I think it's some bull. And his explanation for it—because he thought I had the ball—I don't think you could think a person has the ball. Soon as I sacked you, you grabbed my arm. And then everybody ran past us.

"Even if you thought I had the ball, it's not legal to trip somebody or leg sweep somebody, let alone twist [an] ankle; it's not legal to do that. Everybody else ran past us. If I had the ball, don't you think I'd be getting tackled? Or your teammate would help? So, I don't think it's cool, but it's whatever."

It isn't a reputation Jones will want to foster around the league.

In the short term, however, the bigger concern is that the Patriots have lost four of their past five games and are a game back of the Miami Dolphins for the final playoff spot in the AFC.

The mediocre play of Jones (2,550 passing yards, nine touchdowns, eight interceptions, 65.6 completion percentage, 30 sacks taken) during his sophomore campaign has played a huge part in New England's struggles.

Huge AFC East showdowns with the Dolphins and Buffalo Bills loom. It's a tough way to finish the season for a team—and quarterback—looking to salvage postseason aspirations.