Home Sports Cricket Patriots, refs, coaches combine to ruin their night

Patriots, refs, coaches combine to ruin their night



Jason Wolf and Joe Rexrode recap the loss to the Patriots.
Autumn Allison|USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots are really good, they destroyed the Titans 35-14 Saturday night in a playoff game at Gillette Stadium, they’ll probably win it all again and we’ll get to them in a minute.

But first, let’s talk about the feelings of Titans fans as this season ends. They still should feel good about the first postseason for this franchise in nine years and the first win – last week’s 22-21 comeback thriller at Kansas City – in 14. And they should be furious at the way Saturday’s opportunity was both taken away and squandered.

This could have been a game. Some kind of game, anyway. A half game? Something better than what it was. If you saw it, you know it.

More: Patriots 35, Titans 14: Tom Brady dices Tennessee defense in AFC divisional playoffs

“I think if we had another crack at it, we’d do it a lot better. I really believe that,” Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan said after the season ended with 10 wins and eight losses. “Some uncharacteristic mistakes by some key guys.”


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The Titans got the start they wanted, stops on the Pats’ first two possessions and a superb 95-yard drive engineered by Marcus Mariota and finished with a 15-yard, one-handed touchdown catch by receiver Corey Davis. They could not keep stopping the Tom Brady machine, because no one does, but it was 7-7 when Mariota zipped one to receiver Eric Decker for a conversion on third-and-14 … called back for pass interference.

Replay revealed a bad call, one coach Mike Mularkey said will “go down in history.”

More: Corey Davis gives Titans glimpse of what they need him to be

But you know what? Those happen, and Pats corner Malcolm Butler sold the push-off well. The bigger problem – the fatal problem – came when it was 14-7 Pats in the second quarter, and they were punting from their own 14 and called for a false start. So now they would punt from their 9 … except the officials reversed the call and flagged Tennessee’s Brynden Trawick for encroachment, giving the Pats a first down.


Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry kept reminding his teammates that the team will make it back to the playoffs following the loss to the Patriots.
Autumn Allison|USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee

And it was a terrible call, made worse by the fact that the correct call was initially made. Trawick flinched but did not cross until the offensive player moved first. As annoying as all the conspiracy-screaming Pats haters can be, this one was made for them. And of course Brady took advantage by driving his team down the field to make it 21-7.

Other calls and non-calls fed the screamers, and NFL officiating simply can’t be this bad. That doesn’t mean the Pats didn’t earn this win. They eventually asserted themselves and left no doubt. The Titans did not respond well; they shrunk in the moment. Mariota said he was…

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