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'I was just trying to tackle him': Patriots QB Mac Jones responds to accusation of 'completely dirty' play

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The Carolina Panthers aren’t happy with Mac Jones. The New England Patriots rookie quarterback says it’s a misunderstanding.

During the Patriots' 24-6 win over the Panthers, Jones was strip-sacked by Brian Burns with 39 seconds left in the first quarter. When Jones was hit, the ball came out and bounced 3 yards behind him. During that time, the rookie grabbed Burns by the ankle and didn’t let go. The defensive end was twisted up on the play and ended up on the sideline in the blue medical tent. He returned but later departed the game with an ankle injury.

Afterward, Panthers teammate Haason Reddick said it was "completely dirty” and hopes “it's something the league addresses.”

On Monday afternoon, Jones was asked about the play during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s "Merloni & Fauria" show. He said he thought Burns had the ball and was trying to make a tackle.

“After I got hit pretty hard, I didn't really know exactly what was going on. I thought he had the ball. It was my job to try and make the tackle. That was pretty much it,” Jones said. “Obviously when you get up and see the ball, it’s actually down the field a little bit more. It was a bang-bang play. 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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On Monday, the NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that the NFL is looking into the incident and any discipline would result in a fine. Jones hopes that doesn’t happen.

“I just thought that’s what happened and I had to make the tackle. I did what I did in real time. It kind of is what it is,” said Jones when asked about being potentially fined by the NFL. “… Hopefully (the NFL) sees it like I saw it in the game and don’t look too much more into it because that’s what it was.”

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones passes during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones passes during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

This isn’t the first time Jones and Burns shared the same field. The two actually competed against each other in high school. The quarterback played for the Bolles School in Jacksonville and the defensive end played for American Heritage in Plantation, Florida.

The quarterback said he never had any bad blood with Burns.

“He’s a great player and great defensive end. He’s played that way for a long time,” Jones said. “He was great at Florida State and obviously played well in the NFL and has done a great job. I have no hard feelings against him or anybody on the team. They had a great defense and statistically they’re really good…

“I was young in high school. I don’t even know if he knew who I was at the time. He probably doesn’t even remember, but there was no beef or anything like that.”

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Mac Jones, Patriots QB, responds to accusation of 'dirty' play