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Mac Jones called out by Panthers for ‘dirty play’ when he was sacked and fumbled

Panthers defensive end Brian Burns had a sack in the first half.Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Panthers outside linebacker Haason Reddick is not happy with Patriots quarterback Mac Jones after a controversial play in the first quarter of Sunday’s game.

On a third and 4, with the ball on Carolina’s 47-yard line, Panthers defensive end Brian Burns sacked Jones from behind and knocked out the ball. Panthers linebacker Frankie Luvu recovered.

As Burns was getting up off Jones to pursue the ball, Jones, still on the ground, tugged at his right ankle. Burns ended up twisting around and falling back to the ground. He stayed down on the field after the play and limped off to the bench with the assistance of medical trainers.


Burns was able to return to the game.

“I definitely thought it was a dirty play,” Reddick said after Carolina’s 24-6 loss. “First, I thought he was trying to trip or kick Burns. Then, the next thing you know, I saw him tugging on Burns’s ankle. I thought it was completely dirty. Hopefully, it’s something that the league addresses.”

Reddick said he was surprised there was no whistle, calling the lack of a penalty flag “egregious,” “unfair,” and “mind-blowing.”

After the play, Panthers coach Matt Rhule also argued with officials that a penalty flag should have been thrown, pointing to the video board for reference.

“It seems like they’re always protecting the offensive players,” Reddick said. “Where’s the protection for the defensive players as well? I felt like that was a call that shouldn’t be missed. I’m going to speak out on it. Whatever the consequences, however the referees feel, that’s how they feel. It looked completely intentional.”

Referee Clete Blakeman said via a pool report that his crew cannot comment on the specific play, deferring to the league office.

“It’s a subjective call, a judgment call,” Blakeman said. “I’m not saying we saw it or didn’t see it, but this is something we can’t discuss, relative to subjective calls like that, what rises to the level of a hold or is not a hold.”


According to the CBS broadcast, Burns and Jones do have a bit of history. When the two were in high school in Florida, Burns sacked Jones in a game, and Jones didn’t like how Burns danced and celebrated after the play.

Still, Reddick disapproved of Jones’s actions Sunday.

“I understand everybody is out there competing,” Reddick said. “I understand everybody wants to win, but I don’t think there’s any room for that inside of the game.”

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Nicole Yang can be reached at nicole.yang@globe.com.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang.