Bengals' Adam Jones on heated play: 'I don't back down from anybody'

ByColey Harvey ESPN logo
Monday, September 14, 2015

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones told ESPN after Sunday's season opener against the Oakland Raiders that he wasn't expecting a punishment to come following his involvement in a controversial play that featured offsetting penalties.

Asked if he anticipated a fine or suspension, he simply replied: "No."

Jones was part of a second-quarter fracas in the Bengals' 33-13 win that involved Raiders offensive tackle Austin Howard.

At the end of a 60-yard run that was going to be called back anyway for a holding penalty, the two were issued personal foul penalties that were the result of a couple of end-of-play altercations.

Although officials clearly missed it, cameras caught Jones on top of Raiders receiver Amari Cooper, slapping at Cooper's helmet hard enough that it came off.

As soon as it did, Jones grabbed Cooper's head and slammed it once into the helmet while Cooper was on his back underneath the veteran corner.

"Whatever you saw happen, that's what happened," Jones said. "I'm just here to play football. I don't back down from anybody and I'm not out here trying to start anything. I'm just out here playing football."

Former NFL vice president of officiating and current Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira tweeted that Jones should have been thrown out of the game.

Apparently seeing Jones' actions, Howard came in and tried to push him off the receiver.

At the time, the Bengals were leading 10-0.

Cooper said he thought if officials had seen the play occur, they would have enacted a harsher penalty, such as ejecting Jones. Overall, though, he wasn't bothered by the play.

"I mean, it's football," Cooper said. "It's a physical game so you kind of expect it."

The offsetting penalties came after Bengals safety George Iloka was flagged for taunting late in the first quarter when he got up following a tackle and whipped a leg over the head of the ball carrier he wrapped up. Iloka then slammed his foot hard onto the ground next to the runner's head.

That penalty came one play after the Bengals' defenders and Raiders' offensive players were jawing.

"I was just celebrating with my teammates," Iloka said. "I was in the moment. Stuff happens."

Celebrations or not, coach Marvin Lewis said he wants his players to display better discipline.

"We have got to be better than that," Lewis said. "We have to walk away. We're supposed to make plays. This is NFL football. You're supposed to make plays and walk away to the back of the huddle. We can't have the penalties we had in those situations because those things can change a game and they can really hurt you. We've got to do a better job."

Iloka wasn't the only one in the moment. Jones felt that way, too.

"I'm just out playing football," Jones said. "I'm not out to do that. I don't want to hurt my team in any form or fashion, but I have to make sure I protect myself, too."

There were 11 penalties called in the game. Five of them were the product of some type of personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct infraction.

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