A day after a disappointing 16-10 loss in Miami, Tennessee Titans coach Mike Mularkey maintained that the Dolphins’ fumble return for a touchdown should never have counted against his team – for any number of reasons.
As Mularkey pointed out Sunday, he claimed his players heard a whistle on the hit of Matt Cassel as he was attempting to throw the ball forward. With the ball landing a good 10 to 15 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, and the players hearing a whistle, according to Mularkey, the Titans thought the play was dead and stopped running. Instead, Dolphins defensive back Reshad Jones returned it 38 yards for what was eventually ruled a touchdown.
After viewing the tape again Monday, Mularkey not only stood by that, he added that the Dolphins had two extra men on the field, who had come on, believing the next play would be run from the previous line of scrimmage. That should have negated the touchdown that Mularkey felt shouldn’t have counted anyway.
“I’ll still stand by my players. To describe the play, it’s hard to describe because there’s not a bean bag thrown, there’s no signal of incomplete, there’s actually nothing. I’ll stand by my players every day of the week, every minute of the day. When they’re telling me something, they’re telling me the truth. They said there was a whistle,” Mularkey said. “You can watch the reaction of everybody, but what really gets you is the two defenders that are coming on the field from their sideline making it 13 defenders on the play. There’s 13 Miami Dolphins on the field when that play is taking place. Their guys thought it was a dead play too. That’s illegal as well, I’m very shocked that they didn’t see that in the review that they had 13 players on the field.”
Mularkey also felt that the play should have been ruled an incomplete pass in the first place.
“The ball went 13 yards forward, I’d be tough for me to call that a fumble if it goes that far,” Mularkey said.
Of course, while Mularkey and the Titans were not sure about that play and also were just as peeved over an offensive pass interference call on tight end Jonnu Smith that negated a TD pass to Delanie Walker.
And while Mularkey was not happy on Monday, he said he has to choose his words carefully when criticizing the officials.
“I’ve got to be careful because I’ll get in trouble if I do that. I get in trouble for holding people accountable,” he said. “To me, you’re talking about two teams that have big factors in the game, as well as officials. They’re just as much of a factor in the game. When they’re game-changing plays, someone has to be held accountable, but you get in trouble if you go in too much detail about it. I do have a problem with that, I do, I have a problem with that.”