Now he’s going back there for another one on Sunday with the Indianapolis Colts.
Before he signed with the Colts last offseason, the 6-foot-3, 337-pound defensive tackle was with the Baltimore Ravens, who lost at New England 23-20 three years ago and then returned to prevail 28-13 the next postseason in a run to a Super Bowl title.
As fate would have it, Jones is headed back to Gillette Stadium for a second consecutive postseason. The Patriots won 43-22 in an AFC Divisional playoff game last January.
“This is a whole different team, a whole different year, and I’m excited about the opportunity ahead of us,” Jones said.
Jones contributed three tackles to the Colts’ 24-13 road win at Denver in last Sunday’s AFC Divisional playoff game. But he was remembered more for a costly play during the Broncos’ opening offensive series.
He got hit in his pocketbook with a $16,000 NFL fine for his lower-leg shot on quarterback Peyton Manning. The tackle came after a pass had been thrown. Jones was assessed a personal-foul penalty for roughing the passer.
“Unfortunately, it was at my expense,” Jones said. “It’s a part of it. It was an accident. In no way am I a dirty player or do I want to be labeled that. It kind of hurt my feelings seeing that on Instagram and Twitter. I’m just a competitor, someone who wants to compete and give my team an opportunity to win the game.”
Jones was scolded by Colts coaches on the sideline after the penalty, which came after the Broncos had failed to convert a third down. The resulting first down allowed Denver to drive to its only touchdown.
“I’m a veteran player,” the fifth-year pro said. “You never want to be the guy to hurt your team. You always want to be the guy to make plays. Sometimes, there are going to be ‘iffy’ questions. When you play the game as hard as I do and try to be physical out there, sometimes things can be ‘iffy.’ That’s what happened. I thought it was a clean shot. If you watch the film, I took one step.”
Jones thought he hit Manning in the thighs and not the knees. The latter has been a more vigorously enforced violation after Patriots quarterback Tom Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury on a low hit in 2008’s season opener.
“I don’t know, I’m sick of talking about it. It’s over with,” Jones said. “On to Tom Brady.”
Jones was an innocent bystander the last time the Colts faced the Patriots, who ran roughshod over the defense for 246 yards rushing in a 42-20 rout on Nov. 16 at Lucas Oil Stadium. He did not play due to an ankle injury.
What’s different about the Colts’ defense this time around? For starters, having Jones in the lineup.
“Having a healthy Arthur Jones makes our defense that much better,” said defensive end Cory Redding. “He commands double teams. … You have a guy in the trenches that loves eating up double teams, demands it, and if you block him one-on-one, he’s going to bull-rush to the quarterback or run down the line and make tackles.”
Jones reiterates it’s about the defense playing together.
“It’s everyone really buying into the program and guys just getting seasoned,” he said. “It’s the last phase of the season. I feel like the whole team is peaking a the right time.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.