JACKSONVILLE, FL (AP) — A.J. Green and Jalen Ramsey started yapping on the opening series. It escalated from there and nearly spiraled out of control.
It ended with both being ejected in Jacksonville’s 23-7 victory against Cincinnati on Sunday. The altercation surely will result in league discipline, maybe even a suspension for Green.
“As a player, as a man, and a father, that’s a reflection of me,” Green said. “I should have walked off in that whole situation. I definitely learned from this experience. It’s never going to happen again. I regret my actions. Whatever the punishment, I accept it. I put myself in that situation.”
Green acknowledged that he let the trash-talking Ramsey get to him.
With the Bengals trying to run out the clock late in the first half, Green jogged through his route and didn’t expect Ramsey to knock him down. Green jumped up, grabbed Ramsey around the neck and slammed him to the ground. Green then delivered numerous punches to Ramsey’s helmet – never the smartest idea – and put another MMA-style choke hold on the former Florida State standout.
“That’s not football,” Green said of the block. “I’m not going to tolerate disrespect like that. I know we can’t fight on the field. He got under my skin and I can’t let that happen. I’ve been the ultimate pro this long and I can’t let little things like that get to me. I shouldn’t have reacted that way, and I apologized to my teammates. That’s not who I am. It just got the best of me today.”
Players from both sidelines rushed the field, pushing, pulling, shoving, screaming and looking like they would brawl.
Coaches and officials stepped in and prevented a melee.
Green and Ramsey were ejected, a decision that prompted loud objections from Jacksonville’s coaching booth.
Referee Brad Allen said officials warned Green and Ramsey earlier in the game. Allen said Ramsey was ejected for instigating the fight, and Green was tossed for throwing punches.
“You don’t have to throw a punch to be disqualified,” Allen told a pool reporter.
Ramsey was not in the locker room after the game.
“I just think Jalen got in A.J.’s head,” Jaguars cornerback Aaron Colvin said. “Jalen put that dog on him, and he didn’t know how to respond to it.”
Added defensive tackle Malik Jackson: “Unprofessional. (Green) has to be better. I just watched it on my phone. Jalen didn’t do anything wrong, in my opinion. He’s out there being a football player, locking people down. Hopefully the Bengals get it together and don’t let that keep happening.”
Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis declined to provide much insight into what transpired, saying “Well, he was set off by something and we’ll keep that at what it was. … Something was, you know, was wrong.”
The Bengals said it was the first time Green had been ejected from a game in his seven seasons.
Ramsey was ejected last year for fighting with Oakland Raiders receiver Johnny Holton in a game. He also drew the ire of former Carolina and Baltimore receiver Steve Smith last season for talking smack during a game.
“Jalen must be saying some stuff that nobody else is saying out here,” Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack said. “I might need to take a page or two from his book.”
Jaguars veteran defensive end Calais Campbell said the fight reminded him of the one between Houston receiver Andre Johnson and Tennessee cornerback Cortland Finnegan in November 2010.
“Jalen is one of the most passionate players that we really feed off of,” Campbell said. “He brings a lot of energy. It was fun to see him lock down one of the best receivers to play the game for a whole half. I can’t wait to get back on the field with him.”
Green’s actions may have been out of character for him, but far from the first for the Bengals.
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict was suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season for hitting Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown in the head. The hit drew a 15-yard penalty and set up the Steelers’ winning field goal in the final seconds of a playoff match.
Burfict also made headlines this week by saying, “I’m not sure Blake (Bortles) can beat us. We want to put it in his hands and have him beat us, if he can.”
Bortles threw for 259 yards and a touchdown, and didn’t have a turnover.
“I think Cincinnati has a bit of a reputation for the type of guys they are and I think you saw a little bit of that today,” Bortles said. “I thought Jalen getting thrown out was (wrong). …”I thought we did a good job playing as hard as we possibly can between the whistles and beating the crap out of them.”