After the Patriots tied Saturday night’s game against the Titans at seven, Tennessee tried to get an answering drive going. Facing third and four from their own 27, quarterback Marcus Mariota found receiver Eric Decker for a 13-yard gain.
And then came the flag. Decker was called for offensive pass interference, forcing the Titans back 10 yards from the prior spot and, after a failed third-and-14 play, ending the drive. Six plays later, New England took the lead for good.
“That one, I won’t even talk about,” coach Mike Mularkey told reporters after the game when asked about the call. “That one goes down in history.”
Referee Ron Torbert explained the decision to a pool reporter.
“In the judgment of the covering official, No. 87 pushed off and created an advantage for himself that allowed him to create space to make the play,” Torbert said.
While the officiating during this game and throughout the season was far from perfect, there seemed to be nothing wrong with the decision that Decker used his arms to generate separation from the defender.