Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green snapped, he said, because of cheap shots he felt Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey was taking. Green, who, along with Ramsey, was ejected at the end of the first half, apologized to his teammates privately before issuing a public apology in postgame interviews.
“It’s football,” Green said, via quotes distributed by the Jaguars. “Things get a little rough out there. When you start to take cheap shots when I’m not looking, that’s when I have to defend myself. I’m not going to back down from anybody. I have a son, and I’m not going to teach him to back down from anybody. It’s a respect thing. I respect all my opponents that I go against, but when it gets to a level when I’m not looking that puts myself in danger, I will have to defend myself. He was talking the whole time, and I was just blocking it out. I can handle that.”
Green and Ramsey were several yards downfield, not involved in a running play up the middle in the waning seconds of the first half. Green placed his hands on Ramsey, and Ramsey reacted by shoving Green to the ground from behind. Green jumped up, put Ramsey in a chokehold and threw him to the ground before throwing punches at Ramsey’s helmet.
“We were just running the clock out, and I turned my back and he shoved me,” Green said. “That’s not football. 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.”
Afterward, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis offered little to explain what set off Green.
“Well, he was set off by something, and we’ll keep that at what it was. You know . . .,” Lewis said, refusing to expound in follow-up questions.
Green, who vows it won’t happen again, knows he could face a suspension for his actions.
“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.”
The Bengals trailed 13-7 at halftime, with Green making only one catch for 6 yards. They had no hope of coming back in the second half without their best playmaker.
“Well it changes things,” Lewis said of not having Green in the second half. “There’s things that . . . obviously it changes your plan, and you know, that’s big. We lose one of our best players.”