The Times released a statement to The Daily Mail saying, "This is a common crossword design: Many open grids in crosswords have a similar spiral pattern because of the rules around rotational symmetry and black squares."
A similar incident occurred in 2017 when people pointed out a crossword that appeared to make the pattern of a swastika.
At the time, New York Times Games responded to the accusations in a tweet, "Yes, hi. It's NOT a swastika. Honest to God. No one sits down to make a crossword puzzle and says, "Hey! You know what would look cool?"
Although likely unintentional, the crossword still caused a stir on social media.