CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers edge rusher Haason Reddick called the first-quarter no-call in which New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones held Brian Burns‘ right ankle as the outside linebacker twisted to get away after a strip sack “egregious” and “completely dirty.”
Burns returned after spending time in the sideline medical tent, but in the fourth quarter, he had to again be helped off the field with an injury to the same ankle. Whether the two were related was not immediately known.
“Definitely thought it was a dirty play,” Reddick said. “I actually saw and witnessed the play while it was happening. At first it felt like he was trying trip or kick Burns. And the next thing you know I saw him tugging on Burns’ ankle. I thought it was completely dirty. Hopefully, it’s something the league addresses.”
Referee Clete Blakeman said it was a “subjective call” and something the league would have to deal with in its evaluation of the game crew as to whether the officials should have called something.
But in general, Blakeman said: “Holding is holding, on any play and throughout the entire game.”
Jones was not asked about the incident after the game. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he believed Jones thought Burns had the ball.
Carolina coach Matt Rhule said “a foul should have been called,” whether it was a personal foul or holding.
“I don’t want to call out any of their players or anything like that,” said Rhule, who said earlier in the week he loved Jones, a player his staff coached in the Senior Bowl. “I’m always gonna protect our guys, and it looked like it was an injury that happened after the play.”
The replay showed Jones holding Burns’ right ankle after the fumble and continuing to hold it as Burns twisted to get away and chase the loose ball. Burns lay on the field while trainers evaluated the injury before helping him to the sideline the first time.
“It seems they always are protecting the offensive players,” Reddick said. “There’s the protection for the protection for the defensive players as well.
“That was a call that shouldn’t be missed. I’m going to speak out on it, whatever the consequences are. It looked completely intentional from where I was standing, and I was pretty close. I don’t think that was a call that should have been missed.”
Reddick said he talked to Burns after the 24-6 loss and said the former Florida State star “will be fine.”
But Reddick continued to criticize Jones, who was not asked about the play during his postgame news conference.
“I understand everybody is out there competing,” he said. “I understand everybody wants to win. I don’t think there is no room for that inside of the game. Everybody needs to be respectful, right? Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt.
“For no penalty, nothing to be thrown, it’s egregious, I think it’s unfair. I really do hope the league addresses it.”