Mariota didn’t wriggle free due to his own efforts, however. Hughes let him go and he confirmed after the game that he did so because he didn’t want to become the latest player flagged for roughing the passer while finishing a tackle.
“I made an inside move and I’m underneath the quarterback at that point in time. When I go to wrap you up I’m naturally low so I’m naturally underneath you,” Hughes said, via NewYorkUpstate.com. “If I pick him up and finish him, it’s a 15-yard penalty and they might score [a touchdown] on that drive. It’s a tough situation to be in, and I’m very thankful that our secondary played lights out all day and got us off the field.”
Mariota threw an incompletion on the play and the Titans had to settle for one of Ryan Succop‘s four field goals. Hughes said he spoke to referee Tony Corrente, who flagged Packers linebacker Clay Matthews for a much-discussed roughing penalty earlier this year, about what to do in the future.
“I spoke to the white hat and he just told me just to wrap up and drive him backwards and they’ll blow the whistle and mark his forward progress,” Hughes said. “Now I know for the future. I found myself in a very vulnerable position and what do you do? Do you finish the tackle or just hold onto him? Now I know.”
Hughes did come up with a sack later in the game that forced the Titans to kick another field goal on their way to a 13-12 loss.