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Panthers DE Brian Burns injured after 'dirty play' by Patriots QB Mac Jones

Panthers linebacker Haason Reddick said he "definitely thought it was a dirty play" when Patriots QB Mac Jones grabbed Brian Burns' ankle and twisted it.
Credit: AP
Carolina Panthers defensive end Brian Burns is taken off the field after getting hunt during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Patriots quarterback Mac Jones became public enemy No. 1 in Charlotte after he grabbed the ankle of Panthers pass rusher Brian Burns and twisted it after a fumble in the first half of Sunday's game at Bank of America Stadium

The play, which was clearly captured by WCNC Charlotte's Nick Carboni during the Panthers' 24-6 loss to the Patriots, shows Burns get up and try to pick up the loose ball when Jones grabs his right ankle and gave it a twist. Reaction to Jones' move was mostly negative, with some people on social media calling on the NFL to suspend Jones for a dirty play. 

Burns briefly checked out of the game but returned before leaving again in the second half. Head coach Matt Rhule confirmed that Burns suffered a sprained ankle and was scheduled to have an MRI to determine how much, if any, time he'll miss. 

Linebacker Haason Reddick didn't mince words after the game, saying he felt Jones crossed the line. 

"I definitely thought it was a dirty play," Reddick said. "I actually saw and witnessed the play while it was happening as I was running. I saw him over there. At first, it looked like he was trying to trip or kick Burns, and then the next thing you know, I noticed I saw him tugging on Burns' ankle. I thought it was completely dirty. Hopefully, it's something the league addresses."

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Jones wasn't asked about the play following the game. On Monday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told WEEI in Boston that he thought Jones believed Burns had the ball. Coincidentally — or not, depending on how you view the play — CBS Sports acknowledged that Burns and Jones had some beef going back to their high school days

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule refused to speculate what was in Jones' head but made it clear that kind of play is unacceptable. 

"I don't know what was in Mac's head," Rhule said. "I don't want to be the Carolina Panthers who get their players hit late, get their ankles turned and nothing ever gets called."

NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero tweeted Monday that the NFL will review the play as part of its normal process. Jones could face a possible fine but nothing more than that.

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