The first quarter of the AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers featured some Auburn-on-Auburn violence.
Patriots rookie cornerback Jonathan Jones crushed former Auburn teammate and Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates on a kickoff return early in the contest:
— Sam Benson Smith (@SamBensonSmith) January 23, 2017
Jones is in his first season with the Patriots, as New England picked him up as an undrafted free agent in 2016. The Georgia native was a second-team All-SEC cornerback in 2014 and started in all four of his seasons with the Tigers.
Current Auburn safety Tray Matthews, who turned down the NFL this offseason, took special notice of the hit on Twitter:
Jones why you hit Sammie like that !
— TriggaTray (@Trigga_Tray28) January 23, 2017
Coates played with Jones from 2012 to 2014 — including the Tigers’ SEC championship campaign and run to the final BCS National Championship Game. The former third-round draft pick missed several games in 2016 due to injury, but he’s been a valued member of the Steelers offense in the last few weeks.
Getting crushed by Jones on that kickoff won’t be one of his season highlights, though.