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The days of dirty football games have in many ways given way to a wider respect for the health and safety of all players. But it is not so universal.

Players regularly accuse other players of tactics that can cause injury. Patriots quarterback Mack Jones is currently the target of such accusations.

Watch the presentation. Following a fumble return by Bengals quarterback Jermaine Pratt, Jones inexplicably bowed at the feet of Bengals cornerback Eli Apple.

The only implausible explanation for the drill was that Jones was hoping Apple would hold off Patriots receiver Taywan Thornton, who was chasing Pratt. Even then, Apple seemed too far behind Thornton to mount a legal block.

The most likely explanation is that with 6:17 left in a 22-12 game that was about to become 28-12 while waiting for the extra point, Jones acted on the frustrations he was feeling.

After the game, Apple made its displeasure with Jones known.

“He tripped me up,” Apple told “I thought it was a dirty game. He’s done it before, I’ve seen it.”

After Sunday’s loss, Jones may not get a chance to play any dirty games in the postseason.

“Yeah, well, they’re going home now,” Apple said.

It’s certainly not the first time Jones has been accused of doing something dirty. In 2021, he caught and twisted the ankle of Panthers pass rusher Brian Burns. Burns was furious, Jones was unapologetic. In the end, Jones was not fined.

This one contains a lot less gray area. It was a clear violation of the rules for lower blocks. It was an unnecessary kick, away from the game. Jones could easily hurt Apple.

So what will happen to Jones in this matter? He may wish that all he got was a lump of coal.


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