Mac Jones was caught under fire during Saturday’s home loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, putting a dent in New England’s playoff hopes.
The New England Patriots entered Saturday afternoon with a lot at stake in terms of the AFC wildcard picture.
If the Patriots could win their final three games, they would be playoff-bound once again. A loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and help, plus winning out, would come next. The latter occurred.
New England’s playoff hopes took a hit with a 22-18 defeat, as the Patriots failed to complete a 22-point comeback, adding more parity to the playoff picture with two weeks to go.
To make matters even worse, Mac Jones, who has struggled with consistent on-field play and staying healthy, could face discipline for a late-game incident that ultimately sealed the win for the Bengals.
The NFL is investigating Mac Jones for low hit vs. Bengals
A second-and-11 pass was ruled incomplete after Germaine Pratt came away with the football (thinking it was a backwards pass) when the play was blown dead. Instead of attempting to tackle Pratt, Jones put an illegal block on Eli Apple, which did not sit well with the cornerback. There was no foul on the play, nor did it change the eventual outcome of the game, but Jones has committed similar infractions throughout his NFL career,
Jones finished 21-of-33 for 240 passing yards and two scores. He was also sacked four times.
NFL insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero were the first to report that the play is being investigated by the league for further action, including a fine for Jones.
#Patriots QB Mac Jones will be evaluated by the NFL for a possible fine for his low hit on #Bengals CB Eli Apple, but not a suspension, per me and @TomPelissero. This will be reviewed in the normal fine timetable.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 26, 2022
“Patriots QB Mac Jones will be evaluated by the NFL for a possible fine for his low hit on #Bengals CB Eli Apple, but not a suspension, per me and [Tom Pelissero],” Rapoport wrote. “This will be reviewed in the normal fine timetable.”
What is New England’s path to the playoffs?
Even with New England’s fourth defeat in six games, the legendary AFC juggernaut can still play January football with its simplest path being back-to-back wins against the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. The Patriots (7-8) can no longer win the division, as the Bills clinched the conference title against the Chicago Bears on the same day.
The Patriots haven’t missed the postseason since 2020, the first non-playoff appearance in the Bill Belichick era since 2008.