Mularkey: Pass interference on Eric Decker “goes down in history”

Getty Images

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.

Watch the video; Decker pushes Malcolm Butler not once, but twice. The second incident of contact — a shove to the head — helped spring Decker free.

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.

90 responses to “Mularkey: Pass interference on Eric Decker “goes down in history”

  1. I saw Gronkowski do exactly the same thing on at least 2 of his receptions, no flags. Titans would have lost anyway but didn’t need to play against the officials too.

  2. I never understood the rules regarding contact within the five yards from scrimmage. The contact here happened in that five yard window. What is the rule?

  3. I think the frustration for some is that offensive players seldom get called for that, and when they do, it seems like it is against the Patriots. Not true, but it appears that way, and the Patriots definitely don’t need the extra help.

  4. Mularkey can whine about that play all he wants (and he was wrong, by the way) but the fact is, his team shouldn’t have even been in the playoffs. They are simply a run-of-the-mill team and were nowhere near a Super Bowl caliber team.
    Go away, Mularkey, and take your lousy team with you.

  5. He over it. It was 7-7 at that point. The Patriots went up 14-7 in the SECOND Q

    if you are using that as an excuse then you deserve to get beat.
    It’s 14-7 in the second Q are you saying that messed you up for the REST of the game?

    Oh and ……Watch the video; Decker pushes Malcolm Butler not once, but twice. The second incident of contact — a shove to the head — helped spring Decker free.

    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.

    Yes Mike we know…but people always need an excuse!!!
    Those same people probably do the same thing in life for the problems they may have , it’s ALWAYS someone else’s fault

  6. Both pushes were within five yards and before the pass was thrown. Should have been legal….just like it is legal for Butler to jam him back.

  7. That’s not true. Everyone knows calls that go against the Patriots are always right and calls that benefit the Patriots are always wrong! Not fair waaaah! 😥

  8. Pushed off, no question. Even if you took away that penalty and they didn’t call encroachment on the punt, right call also, Tenn still loses. Seriously, is there any question who the better team was lat night?

  9. I think they could have ate the flag on that one, but Tennessee needed a mistake free game in order to have a chance, and they were far from that.

  10. 1st Qtr, 6:50, pass to Cooks, # 25 Tenn is holding him back from getting to the ball. He has Cook’s right arm pinned back with his left hand. No flag. Would have been 1st down.

    We can do this all day for each and every game.

  11. I know they made it to the second round of the playoffs but i still think Mularkey is holding this team back.

  12. There was a neutral zone infraction agaisnt the titans that was a false start against the pats. Instead of a punt was First down And the patriots scored on that drive

  13. Everyone that was watching the recent Patriots\Titans playoff game saw the no call on the OPI where Corey Davis made one handed catch while the other arm was being used to push off the Malcolm Butler. That no call gave the Titans an early 7 point lead. That OPI wasn’t as flagrant at what Martavis Bryant got away with for the Steelers. But it was obvious that Davis learned that push off move by watching film of the recent Patriots\Steelers game.

  14. Everyone that was watching the recent Patriots\Titans playoff game saw the no call on the OPI where Corey Davis made one handed catch while the other arm was being used to push off Malcolm Butler. That no call gave the Titans an early 7 point lead. That OPI wasn’t as flagrant as what Martavis Bryant got away with for the Steelers. But it was obvious that Davis learned that push off move by watching film of the recent Patriots\Steelers game.

  15. Within 5 yards contact is allowed. All of said contact came within that range. If the DB plays a press coverage and engages the WR, the WR also has the right to try and disengage. It was a bad call because it fell within those 5 yards. Didn’t matter much for the rest of the game of course.

  16. I did watch it And I saw no real push from Decker and no clear advantage. New England is a good team. It baffles me why they get so many phantom calls from the officials. If it was the other way around, it would have been defensive interference or not called at all. Gronk does it all the time.

  17. Gronk on a few plays later pushed off a whole lot worse than Decker! Gronk does it all the time!

    ____

    I saw at least three replays where a Tenn DB had hands on Gronk after 5 yards, or pulling the jersey. No calls made there. Tell me you didnt see those too.

  18. Thank you. I like Romo but his bias hoping the Titans would make it a game was evident before the game started when he declared them bigger and stronger on both the offensive and defensive lines. Romo actually called Decker’s move a stiff arm. Sorry, but Romo must know you need to be running with the ball to stiff arm someone in the face, not do it to a player you knocked to the ground to keep them from getting up.

    As for Mularkey, he was spouting excuses at halftime. Not often you see someone that badly out coached in the NFL playoffs.

  19. fmaluf says:
    January 14, 2018 at 8:04 am
    There was a neutral zone infraction agaisnt the titans that was a false start against the pats. Instead of a punt was First down And the patriots scored on that drive

    Yeah they had to go almost 90 yards to do it.
    That’s also on Tennessee

  20. I would bet dollars to donuts the special teams penalty mix up was the ref assuming it was illegal procedure when the linesman indicated encroachment. Call could have gone either way but head movement on a center is not usually called when a defensive player is in the neutral zone.

    Two calls that either ended a drive or kept one going hardly were the deciding factor the haters want to make them out to be. The Titans have no depth, were run ragged, executed poorly, were not well coached, couldn’t pressure Brady and couldn’t protect Mariota.

  21. That call not only took away a 1st down but gave patriots great field position. Patriots are hard to stop and now they get terrific field position. And then the neutral zone call. Those calls make a huge difference in the game and made the Titans offense one dimensional.

  22. I was hoping he would talk about all them 1st downs the titans got or all those rushing yards they got.He could have talked about the pressure they got on Brady.Did he say anything about the titans rushing defense?Did he mention the awesome pass protection?I guess he really didn’t have alot to talk about.

  23. Even Tony Romo called B.S. on that one…and make no mistake, it did change the course of the game!!!

    However it wasn’t the Titans who suffered for it…they still would’ve lost…

    It was the bettors who lost out on a closer game. Not only was the flag thrown at the very end of the play…it came from an official who was at least 15 yds away from the incident and was in no position to make the call!!! Remember refs don’t determine the outcome, but they sure as heck can influence point spreads!

  24. The Titans aren’t very good and got a lucky break against KC, but the 2nd qtr of the game was a complete travesty

    1. OPI against Decker nullified a 1st down and gave the Pats the ball around the 50 and the momentum
    2. Pats stopped on 3rd down deep in their own territory then refs on punt change their call to encroachment giving Pats a 1st down. Titans would have had great field position
    3. 4th fail by Titans at end of half refs missed offsetting penalties. Pats grabbed the face mask on Henry and Titans OL holding. If they call both penalties Titans get another play instead not calling anything Pats took over in Titan territory.
    4. Long second gave Pats a try for a FG they missed.

    No’s 1 and 2 Pats scores 14 points and no 3 took away an opportunity for Titans to score 3 points.

    I’m not blaming officials for Titans loss but it was certainly aided. Tony Romo was all over the officials for these calls. And so was Twitter.

  25. The world knows refs cheated for the pats. There was one play pats o-line had movement, the ref behind threw the flag, signaling false start first, which would’ve been 4th down pats, but some how they changed it to defense off side. Unreal.

  26. These calls in favor of the Patriots are moving beyond coincidental. I also saw a crack back block that has been called all year being glorified as great block by announcers. Again, there was no penalty??

  27. The world knows refs cheated for the pats. There was one play pats o-line had movement, the ref behind threw the flag, signaling false start first, which would’ve been 4th down pats, but some how they changed it to defense off side. Then Gronk was extending this arms, pushing off multiple times and no calls. Unreal. If they were going to make calls like Decker’s, at least be consistent.

  28. Oh give it up, the contact was made within the first 5 yards between the defender and receiver.
    ____________________________________

    The 5 yard rule only applies to defenders. And even if it did apply to the offense, it would only apply for initial contact. If the initial contact is broken off and second contact is made within the 5 yards it is considered interference.

  29. Decker isn’t what he used to be. If you’re relying on him to heat up in to beat the perennial AFCCG participant Patriots, your GM must do a better job finding impact players.
    It was good to see Corey Davis finally show a bit. Better late than never

  30. The 5 yard rule wouldn’t negate pass interference. In order for it to be pass interference, the ball is supposed to already have been released by the QB. Once the ball is in the air, the 5 yard rule no longer applies. In the clip linked to in this story, whe Mariota releases the ball is out of frame, so you can’t tell if it’s correct or not.

  31. Haha, Patriot fans “Gronk gets called all of the time! Players get away with it on him all the time! Wahhhhh”.

    Actually, since 2014, Gronk has had 9, that’s right, NINE OPI calls go against him. So, in 52 games, not including post season, he, on average, gets one call every 6 games. I guess that’s “all the time”. Beyond that, the Patriots are bottom 5 in penalties against, and #1 in beneficial calls and yardage. “WAHHH, NFL is out to get us. Wahhhh.”

  32. “there seemed to be nothing wrong with the decision that Decker used his arms to generate separation from the defender”

    There was however something wrong with the comment from Mularkey, which he used to generate separation from his job.

    He basically told his team at halftime that the officials were calling the game for the Patriots. In other words, “there’s no hope”.

    Way to motivate.

  33. I’m an old Oiler fan whose heart followed the team. What I saw yesterday was disheartening and frustrating. Tennessee has a cadre of excellent football players with mediocre coaches (at best) who seem intent on finding excuses for their failures. The contrast in skills and connection to players between McDaniels and Mularkey was on display tonight. If Mularkey stays and McDaniels leaves the Patriots, the Tennessee fans should demand a change in ownership! McDaniels is obviously available; don’t let Mularkey become an obstacle to setting the tone for Titans football for the next two decades! The Oilers never “kicked the door in” while in Houston; with McDaniels the Titans won’t need to kick in the door – they’ll own the keys to the castle.

  34. I thought it was a weak call. Also the offsides on Tenn. during a N.E. punt. New Engalnd moved. They were at critical parts of the game in the first half. I still think New England wins however even with the season long favorable calls that New England receives.

  35. Lol, Titans complaining about the officiating. Go back and watch the Titans Chiefs a week ago. You will get a brand new perspective on forward progress!

  36. The NFL could should you 1,000 times where no call was made on plays just like that. Receivers do it all the time and it doesn’t get called. It was called because it was the Patriots and the refs were helping them out. That wasn’t the only bad call of the game.

  37. That call will go down in history as an entirely correct call. Decker pushed off twice on that play, and the facemask pushoff had to be called by a reasonable crew.

    I would agree that VanNoy should have been called for a 5 yard facemask penalty on one of the other plays some fans are whining about. If called Pats win big anyways.

  38. A ticky-tack call for sure and probably incorrect since it seemed to be within 5 yards, but no one is remembering a first half OPI call in a 35-14 drubbing. Sorry, Mike.
    It’s probably not even in the top 25 questionable calls that have gone the Patriots way this season.

  39. Mularkey should be fined for his comments and be made to watch the video over and over again. Decker gained an advantage using his arms and hands pushing DB Malcolm Butler off balance allowing for the reception. The call was correct; Often there is hand or arm contact between two players (DB & WR) but if there is an advantage gained a penalty must be called…..I have no idea if the rules have such language, it just makes sense.

  40. Should have been a no call. But, the biggest problem was the Titans never made any adjustments. EVERYBODY knows Brady is going to throw quick throws in the 5-7 yard range. And the Titans consistently played loose coverage. It was pitch and catch all night long. Nothing special about it really.

  41. First, Mularkey is not “complaining about the refs” in the context of their impacting the outcome, he was responding tempered to a question.

    As to the pass interference call being discussed, what Decker did on that play takes place on every competitive 1 v 1, and outside of flag happy officials/crews it does not get called when both players are jabbing at each other unless flagrant and the cause of the defender being disadvantaged. Butler is a true all pro, and during the physical competing he slipped–it happens. That Butler’s studs let him down had little to do with the contact, this absolutely qualified as a “let them play” moment and that was Romo’s sentiment as he tried to relate the realities of that moment.

  42. whywerule says:
    January 14, 2018 at 10:15 am

    That call will go down in history as an entirely correct call. Decker pushed off twice on that play, and the facemask pushoff had to be called by a reasonable crew.

    I would agree that VanNoy should have been called for a 5 yard facemask penalty on one of the other plays some fans are whining about. If called Pats win big anyways.

    __________________________________________

    The five-yard facemask penalty has been gone from the NFL since 2008.

  43. “Beyond that, the Patriots are bottom 5 in penalties against”

    Yes that’s a reflection of the much better level of coaching the Pats have than most teams do. Good coaches no only place their players in the best position to succeed, they also make sure fundamentals are well and truly covered so they don’t pick up many stupid penalties.

    Prime example last night when one of the Titan’s defenders was punching a Patriot in the face mask. The Patriot player kept his cool in part due to having been coached up not to respond to stupidity. Most of the time when someone swings there’s retaliation and its always the guy retaliating who gets the penalty. By keeping his cool and letting the Titan hit him multiple times, the better coached Patriot player drew the penalty instead of getting one for retaliating.

  44. Calls such as that aren’t made in playoff games. Give me a break; with officiating like I normally see when the Pats play anyone, it’s no wonder that they are always somewhere in the championship hunt at the end of the season. Just go back and watch the Jesse James touchdown that wasn’t during the Steeler/Pats game last month. It’s now officiating that determines the winner of a game vs. a given team’s talent. Pathetic!

  45. Lemmy Aksyadis says:
    January 14, 2018 at 7:10 am
    Pushed off, no question. Even if you took away that penalty and they didn’t call encroachment on the punt, right call also, Tenn still loses.
    ————

    How could you possibly know this? You cannot. Change one play during a game and the rest of the game goes entirely different.

    NE might have won by 40 and they could have lost by 40 if this call had gone differently or simply not been called because it wasn’t a penalty (as well as that BS encroachment call on the blocked punt).

    Up to that point in the game it looked to me like TN was certainly capable of winning.

  46. Yes, the better team clearly won. I think it’s a long-shot to say the end result was affected by two calls. We can all speculate as to what would or wouldn’t have happened had the correct calls been made. I would have rather been able to see it for myself.

    The argument against making this call is that the defender was already off balance, and if he wasn’t falling down, he wasn’t going to be in a position to make a play. No advantage gained, but I guess that’s the risk you take when you put it in the officials’ hands.

    The “neutral zone infraction” call when New England was lined up to punt was terribly handled. It took an eternity for the officials to even blow a whistle before announcing the correct penalty. Then, somehow, they got together and got it wrong. Even if Tennessee came across, New England had already committed a false start.

    There’s no denying those two calls had an enormous impact on the game to that point. I would say at that point those calls were more impactful than anything else that had happened, taking the game out of the players’ hands.

    Watching the way the rest of the game played out, it’s obvious to me that New England is the better team, but I think most everyone knew that going in. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with acknowledging that significant errors were made that worked in New England’s favor as well.

  47. Who cares if Pats would of won anyway. I wanted to watch a close game for as long as possible but refs stepped in with 2 bad possession calls early. Deckers arm was already extended on second push and still within 5 yards.Gronk pushed off worse. No calls.Don’t they know their own 5 yard rule?

  48. Who cares if Pats would of won anyway. I wanted to watch a close game for as long as possible but refs stepped in with 2 bad possession calls early. Deckers arm was already extended on second push and still within 5 yards

  49. bubbahotepp says:
    January 14, 2018 at 11:11 am

    It all started with Tuck Rule Tommy and has never let up.
    ——————————————————————-
    That game was January 18 2002 (which is only 4 days shy of 16 years ago) That doesn’t seem to stop cry babies from constantly bringing it up.

    Its called “rule” for a reason. Because the play was called according to NFL rules. It was a good rule because it helped create immediate karma for the Raiders cheating on that same play.

    If you look for a video online titled “THE TUCK RULE – 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY” you can see #21 Eric Allen Raiders cornerback standing on the Patriots sideline as the Patriots are talking about the play the Patriots are going to run.

    In the video Eric Allen is interviewed and he says that he told the Raiders coaches that information. The Raiders then put a defense in to specifically cover the player that Tom Brady was going to pass to. That is why Tom Brady had to tuck the football in the first place.

    So if the Raiders did not steal the Patriots play call with that sleazy tactic, then the tuck rule play never happens and Tom Brady likely completes a pass to win the game. Tom Brady obviously had the skill to do it.

    The Tuck Rule was already a rule in the NFL rule book so the fact that the referees called it according to the rule book was what it was their jobs to do.

  50. It’s hard to beat the cheaters n refs at home

    Pretty sure no one will this year. You’re not gonna like it.

  51. garyeyee says:
    January 14, 2018 at 7:15 am
    Gronk on a few plays later pushed off a whole lot worse than Decker! Gronk does it all the time!

    ——————————————–
    And Gronk gets penalized more than any other offensive player.

  52. no1user2name says:
    January 14, 2018 at 6:02 pm
    garyeyee says:
    January 14, 2018 at 7:15 am
    Gronk on a few plays later pushed off a whole lot worse than Decker! Gronk does it all the time!

    ——————————————–
    And Gronk gets penalized more than any other offensive player.
    ———-

    He doesn’t even get flagged 10% of the times that he should. And we’re talking about gargantuan, play-changing push offs that he gets away with. Not marginal shoves that you can only spot on slow motion replay.

    Mike Evans and a few others get called more than Gronkowski (who, realistically should get flagged for blatant push offs twice per game, on average) actually DOES.

  53. When Pats fans cry about the refs it’s whining. When other fans do it well … it’s still whining.

    5/15 in third down efficiency
    8 sacks to none
    Two red zone trips vs 5.

    The refs didn’t impact the game nearly as much as some might like to pretend. Overall the game was officiated consistently and on par with every game this year. Which was below average.

  54. All WRs\TEs push off. The difference is if it creates space or not. If it does it should be flagged. If it doesn’t it shouldn’t.

    For those who are confused by illegal contact …

    ARTICLE 1. LEGAL CONTACT WITHIN FIVE YARDS

    Within the area five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, a defensive player may chuck an eligible receiver in front of him. The defender is allowed to maintain continuous and unbroken contact within the five-yard zone, so long as the receiver has not moved beyond a point that is even with the defender.

  55. That’s why I invest my $$$$ in/on the Patriots… With help from the refs, its easy $$$$.. They need Brady/Belichick to win #6 this year!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!