New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has been fined $13,367 for his low hit on Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple during the Pats' Week 16 loss on Saturday, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported Saturday.
During the fourth quarter, Jones was chasing Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt on a fumble recovery (that was eventually ruled an incomplete pass) and, seemingly unable to catch Pratt, Jones dropped off and dropped down toward the legs of Apple, who was following the play.
Apple expressed his dismay regarding the play after the game, calling it "a dirty play."
"He's done that before, I've seen it," Apple said.
Jones responded on Monday during an interview on WEEI and said he did not have any "intention to hurt" Apple and explained he was trying to prevent Apple from blocking Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton .
"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," Jones said, per ESPN. "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."
In addition to his fine for the low hit on Apple, Jones was also fined $10,609 for a separate unnecessary roughness violation in the loss to Cincinnati, per Pelissero.
As Apple referenced, Saturday's incident was not the first instance in which controversial play by Jones has been spotlighted.
Jones grabbed the leg of Carolina Panthers defensive end Brian Burns after a sack in the quarterback's rookie season last year. Like Apple, Burns spoke out about Jones' play in the aftermath.