Report: NFL Will Fine Patriots’ Mac Jones For Hit On Eli Apple

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots
Dec 24, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) looks to pass against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

According to ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio, the NFL is planning on fining New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones for a hit to the knees of Bengals cornerback Eli Apple during the Patriots’ loss on Sunday to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The hit took place following a fumble recovery by the Bengals defense. On the fumble return, Jones was seen blatantly tripping Bengals cornerback Eli Apple while being five yards away from the play.

Per Florio, Jones is expected to be fined $11,139 for the low hit on Wednesday.

The low block on Apple occurred after a change of possession and any block below the waist at that point constitutes a rule violation.

Apple spoke to the media about the hit after the game in which he said he believed it was a dirty hit.

“Of course, I did [notice it]. He tripped me,” Apple said of Jones after the game. “I thought it was a dirty play. He’s done that before, I’ve seen it.”

Jones allegedly did something similar last year and reportedly caused Carolina Panthers defensive end Brian Burns to twist his ankle as he was trying to get up. He also allegedly kicked Chicago Bears safety Jaquan Brisker in the groin area last season, according to reports. However, Jones denies any ill intent saying that he was trying to stop Apple from blocking Patriots receiver Tyquan Thornton.

Jones spoke to reporters about the hit on Apple, saying:

“I went down in front of him to kind of get in the way to stop him from slowing down Tyquan [Thornton], who obviously could make the tackle there,” Jones 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, 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.”

Jones was the 15th overall pick in the 2021 draft out of Alabama. At Alabama, Jones was a part of two National Championship teams including being the starting quarterback for the 2021 National Championship. He has been with the Patriots since the draft in which he went to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season. 

With the loss on Sunday to the Bengals, the Patriots are now 7-8 and have lost two games in a row. They are currently a game out of the last playoff spot in the AFC with two games remaining in the regular season. Jones and the Patriots will be hosting the Miami Dolphins this Sunday for a 1 p.m. kickoff.

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