Titans coach Mike Mularkey definitely wasn't happy with the officiating crew that worked Tennessee's playoff game on Saturday in New England.
Following Patriots were facing a fourth-and-5 from their own 14-yard line. Before the ball was snapped, the Patriots were called for a false start and it looked like they were going to have to punt from their own 9-yard line. However, the play turned into a New England first down after officials changed their call on the field., Mularkey definitely didn't hide his disdain for the officials from the game. One of the weirdest calls came in the second quarter when the
Instead of flagging the Patriots for offsides, Tennessee's Brynden Trawick was penalized for encroachment, which gave the Patriots a first down. So did Mularkey get an explanation for why the officials decided to reverse the call?
"No, at that point, I got tired of the explanations I was getting. So no, I did not," Mularkey said, via quotes distributed by the team.
That penalty came with 6:32 left in the first half, so the fact that Mularkey was already "tired of explanations" is pretty telling for how badly he thought the game was officiated. After the Patriots got the benefit of the penalty, they used their renewed set of downs to to score a touchdown and take a 21-7 lead a few plays later.
Mularkey didn't completely blame the officials for the fact that his defense gave up 81 yards after the reversed call, but he did say that it was "pretty big" that the refs decided to change their mind on the play that would've been a Patriots punt.
"There was many things that changed that," Mularkey said. "But obviously they went down and scored a touchdown. And so, I would say it was pretty big."
After the game, referee Ron Torbert explained why the call was made.
"The line judge saw a defensive lineman jump into the neutral zone, did not see the guard across from him move," Torbert said. "The umpire saw the guard move and threw his flag for a false start, which is what we initially announced. When we got together and discussed it and pieced together that the defensive lineman across from the guard jumped in the neutral zone and caused the false start, that's when we changed the ruling from a false start to a neutral zone infraction."
After talking about the punt play, Mularkey was asked about another questionable call, and this time, he could barely muster an answer, and that's likely because he didn't want to get hit with a huge fine by the NFL.
The play Mularkey was asked about came in the second quarter when the Titans were faced with a third-and-4 from their own 27-yard line. After the Titans appeared to convert the third down with a 13-yard pass from Marcus Mariota to Eric Decker, the refs ended up waving it off with an offensive pass interference flag against Decker.
"That one, I won't even talk about," Mularkey said. "That one goes down in history."
You can see the play below.
If Decker's catch had stood, the Titans would have had the ball at their own 40-yard line in a game that was tied 7-7. Instead, they were forced to punt and the Patriots scored on their ensuing drive to take a 14-7 lead.
According to Torbert, the call on Decker was a close call.
"In the judgment of the covering official, [Decker] pushed off and created an advantage for himself that allowed him to create space to make the play," Torbert said.
Although Mularkey clearly wasn't happy with the way the game was officiated, he didn't completely blame the refs for the loss, saying that there was no way the Titans were going to win with the way they played.
"I'll never blame officiating for costing us," Mularkey said. "You know, we got to play better. There is no question about it."
The bottom line is that the Patriots will now move on to the AFC title game and the everyone who thinks that New England gets all the calls