Titans Mike Mularkey Upset About Incorrect Post-Fumble Spot Against Steelers

Did the Pittsburgh Steelers catch an officiating break late in the first half of their Thursday night game against the Tennessee Titans? It certainly appears that way and Titans head coach Mike Mularkey certainly wasn’t happy after the game ended about what transpired following a fumble by Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown with less than one minute remaining in the first half.

During the Steelers final drive of the first half, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger connected wide receiver Antonio Brown over the middle on a second down and 10 play for a big gain into Titans territory. However, as Brown looked to gain additional yardage after making the catch, Titans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson caught him from behind and poked the football out of his hands for a fumble. The loose football went bouncing forward 10 yards and the Steelers caught a huge break when fellow wide receiver Martavis Bryant recovered it at the Titans 32-yard-line. The referees then marked the football where Bryant recovered it and Roethlisberger quickly got the offense up to the line of scrimmage and spiked the football with 32-seconds remaining in the half.

According to NFL rules, if an offensive player fumbles the football after the two-minute warning in a half, or on fourth down at any time during the game, only the fumbling player can recover it and advance it. If that player’s teammate recovers the loose football in those situations, it should be placed back at the spot of the original fumble, unless it was a recovery for a loss. This rule was put in place in 1979 thanks to the infamous “Holy Roller” play early during 1978 season.

After the game was over, Mularkey was asked about the botched spot of the football following the Brown fumble and subsequent Bryant recovery

“No. The spot was not correct,” Mularkey said. “The spot cost us a field goal. It cost momentum. It cost a lot of things.”

The incorrect spot indeed ultimately worked against the Titans as the Steelers offense failed to advance the football any further down the field in their two post-spike plays. That resulted in Steelers kicker Chris Boswell attempting and making a 50-yard field goal with 23-seconds left in the first half. Had the football been spotted where Brown originally fumbled it, Boswell would have unlikely been sent out to attempt a 60-yard field goal had the offense failed to move the football.

Mularkey talked about the conversation he had with officials about that call and admitted that his previously quotes might result in him being fined by the league.

“No, I didn’t argue with them. They agreed it was the wrong spot,” Mularkey said. “I’ll be in trouble for that, but you know what, that’s the way it is. Say it like it is. Quit hiding things. It was the wrong spot, and it made a difference. We lost three points because of it.”

  • John Noh

    Oh boo hoo hoo. There was still 46 seconds left in the half. They would have figured it out. You lost by 23. What a bunch of malarkey, Mularkey.

  • rystorm06

    Yeah I’m still pissed about the BS roughing the passer call on us. And overturning Bell’s TD while not overturning Mariota’s when they both look like they equally crossed the line. But of course, we all know mularkey isn’t biased at all hmm…

  • falconsaftey43

    He is right to be upset, it is a black and white call that was botched. Just refs not doing a good job with the rules.

  • falconsaftey43

    I’d agree with all those calls made. Mariota was too close to tell so it stood. Bell was short for sure. They called a similar call for Ben later.

    Regardless, this isn’t a judgement issue it is black and white 100% mistake on simple procedure stuff. He should be mad.

  • Getitout

    Mukarkey should be pissed at the refs. Its their job to interpret the rules and they blew it.
    BUT, he should be more pissed at himself for letting HIS team collapse in the second half and letting Pittsburgh blow them out

  • DoctorNoah

    Totally agree with Mularkey, who’s done very good things there as a coach. The spot was wrong. No idea why Central Control in NYC didn’t intervene. Any ref should clearly know better. I agree with others that we got screwed on a few “judgment calls” that lacked judgment, but this was not a judgment call, it was just poor officiating. Doesn’t mean anything would have changed, but who knows.

  • Rob

    Had they stopped to review it the Steelers would not have had to clock the ball and therefore would have had an extra down to work with. And Mr. Mularkey loved when you were black and gold but I do believe your teams 3 and out just prior to that was the real momentum killer.

  • Ken

    Lost in the mess, was a extremely athletic fumble recovery by Martavis – perhaps his best play of the season

  • Mark

    Mike you guys came out and drop a 75 yard bomb on us to get back in the game 16 – 14, this should’ve replaced any momentum you lost by the 3 points you lost? I’m just writing..

  • 太阳三联

    Stfu the rule is an absolute joke of a rule. A fumble is a fumble, jump on that shxt and recover it, just cus some random ass play where a bunch of guys ran and stumbled a ball 40yards down field for a td. It’s dumb. You shouldn’t be able to kick and Advance a ball but seriously come on now

  • 太阳三联

    Not really lost in the mess at all. You should always follow the ball wherever it goes cus you could maybe block. Good positioning by him tho

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Tell him to take a number. We’re still waiting for clarification on a stopped forward progress call.

  • Dakoda Baxley

    If you lost by 3, I could understand. But we still had time to get in FG range. We probably wouldn’t of ran the same plays.

  • 太阳三联


  • Steeler Fanatic

    Wow you must have xray vision if hou think the Bell play was conclusive. That was called a touchdown… and overruling that was a joke.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Their secondary sucks. I would take Jackson and that’s it.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    I am ticked about Bryant’s pi call. The d backs are allowed to handcheck all day.

  • WilliamSekinger

    The spot cost them a FG? No, the spot cost you 10 yards that the Steelers would have picked up on the next play anyway. The Titans defense wasn’t exactly a juggernaut in stopping the Steelers from moving the ball. But, you know, that is ok coach. Keep thinking the game would have been different if for that one bad spot, it’s coaches like you that make it almost impossible for your team to have sustained success because you are constantly blaming other things besides yourselves. /endrant

  • derp_diggler

    I’d take Byard in a heart beat. Guy has 6 picks and 53 tackles in half a season.

  • NinjaMountie

    Meh, I don’t blame him for being upset. I also don’t blame him for exaggerating the importance of the call.

  • Stairway7

    Right they should have lost by 20 instead of 23.

  • NinjaMountie

    I got caught in this in HS and it was how I became familiar with the rule. It was the 4th down variety of the rule. I was carrying the ball and wasn’t close to a first down so I said, “Screw it!” and chucked the ball downfield.
    Honestly, it felt a little cheap doing it so I’m kinda in favor of the rule.

  • Michael Putman

    Yea, they messed it up. It seems quite obvious that it was the wrong call. I doubt it had any effect on the game. If anything, Ben likely wouldn’t have had to spike the ball on first down because the officials would have stopped the clock to re-set the ball. That gives us the chance to get a solid play call, or two plays in. Maybe we actually get a TD instead of settling for 3 again.

  • Michael Putman

    Yup, exactly.

  • mezzetin1

    Aww.. …Mike, we luv ya, but…..

  • pittfan

    And it came on the next play after he was booed by some fans for dropping the ball on the drag route. Way to keep your head in the game MARTAY.
    BTW, it would be nice if he got himself involved in the AB/LB/JJSS endzone dance-a-thon once in a while

  • jamson64

    It appears that on the same play a Titan grabbed a Steelers face mask. I hear no malarkey about that.

  • Scott

    The situation is different, the Titans defender was actually the one who batted the ball forward.

  • Scott

    So how does this rule apply if the Titans defender is actually the one who batted the ball forward?

  • LHW

    Rules are rules. Why have them if they are not known and or followed by the those who are responsible and paid for enforcing them? Everything from the coin toss to the final whistle needs to be tight. Rules need to be consistently enforced. Imagine if this happened to the Steelers. Conspiracy theorists would be screaming. That should have been called. There are no excuses. I would have been upset too.

  • Steeler Nation!

    He should be mad, that he got his butt kicked by 23 points. The FG was a blip on the radar. His QB threw 4 INTs and ours threw 4 TDs. You tell me who was gonna win that one. Had a been a 3 Point won, now he’d have a right to bitch. Losing by 23 and complaining about a spot (that he is right about), he still looks stupid.

  • Ed Smith


  • Daryl Bennett

    I’ll bet Mularkey didn’t know about the rule until they went to the locker room or he could have said something then, but you can’t challenge inside the two minute warning so I can’t say for sure.

  • johnnypudding

    Bad call, yep, they happen every game, but losing by 23 nullifies any point about that call

  • Biggie

    Fine, so take your 3 pts back and we’ll call it a 37-17 butt whooping instead, excuses, excuses.

  • johnnypudding

    I think every coach could find baddish calls to complain about every game…i know tomlin could,.but he doesn’t, and the great ones don’t, especially when your team loses by 3+ touchdowns

  • LHW

    That was not a “baddish call.” It was a missed call. It was horrendous. So, you say should be ignored because of the score? So, let me get this straight, a team that loses cannot make a complaint when the referees miss an obvious call? And all coaches that you considered “great” don’t complain? Tomlin has complained plenty. Your response if full of smarmy subjectivity. Rules cannot be “subjective,” that approach totally defeats the purpose of rules. That fact is not “subjective.”

  • NinjaMountie

    I understand the situations are different but a fumble is a fumble.
    I like the rule.

  • heath miller

    so why didnt he throw the red challenge flag? wasnt it a reviewable situation?

  • PaeperCup

    Cost them momentum even though they scored 10 seconds into the second half….

  • heath miller

    hes right….. the titans got screwed… please sign below .. if i get 100 people to sign this petition i will send it to roger to tell him this is from 100 steelers fans and to please change the score to 37-17 to make mike and the tennesse fans feel so much better.. please sign below … HEEEEEEEATH

  • Bill

    Milarky on Mularky. People make mistakes and they always will. If play had been adjudicated correctly, Steelers would likely have changed their strategy, maybe even have scored a touchdown.

  • Mr. Goodkat

    DB took lessons at the School of Nedney.

  • John Phillips

    Need to fine the refs.

  • Steve

    Why didn’t Malarkey throw the red flag?

  • Steve

    Tomlin has got better in time and timeout management.

  • Steve

    When you loose in Football by 23 pts, you got your butt kicked. Now if the game is close, that is reason to be mad at the call.

  • Rocksolid20

    Fine the refs .

  • Roberto Vaquero Bazán

    Lol, I would sign it, poor Titans they got robbed!

  • Rocksolid20

    Why close the door after the horse runs out ?

  • Rocksolid20

    Fine the Refs and make them sit out a game or until
    they know the rules of the game .

  • Darth Blount 47

    Boswell kicked the snot out of the ball on the 50-yd FG. Even Collinsworth/Michaels said it would have been good from 60. Boswell may have a bit of a sneaky stronger leg than we give him credit for, because we don’t let him attempt 50+ yarders often enough.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I remember he made a couple 52s I think, but he missed a 56 if I recall so they probably cap it at 53ish. Plus Hines field is weird kicking there any way!

  • J Richardson

    Nothing new because Pissburgh always
    gets the benefit of the doubt calls. Always have always will. Not only the dirtiest team in the league, but luckiest when it comes to these types of play. At some point you would think the league would look at it and see why this always goes their way. Better enjoy it now because the “rapist” days are coming to an end and then they are screwed.

  • BRB4ever

    Ok so we punt and they end up inside the 10 but then we could have easily kicked another field goal at the end of the game instead of having Landry kneel on 4th down.

  • #beatthepats

    I dont hear him complaining about the gift first down on the bogus ruffing the passer on tuitt.

  • jesse murray

    Oh you mean like Titans DB holding onto Jesse James arm for dear life in 2nd quarter on pass down on goaline? That missed call cost Steelers: 1st and goal at 1 yard line. Missed calls happen, 10 yards with time left on clock to get closer & MM is moaning? Give me a break. He wants to moan he should look at a QB who is regressing fast.

  • connfyoozed .

    Whoever knocks the ball forward isn’t relevant to the rule. No fumble may be advanced past the line of scrimmage in the last 2 minutes of the half, regardless of how the fumble was caused or who bats it forward.

  • Bonnie Powell

    It was a 23 point loss so 3 points wouldn’t make any difference. Every team has bad calls that hurt them at some point , so it evens out.I’m Sure he was upset at the time, especially if the score was close, but it wasn’t a difference making mistake in the end, so it’s a non-issue.

  • heath miller

    if u didnt let them come back till they know the rules they might never be back .. hahahah

  • heath miller

    yep and had they not gotten screwed on that play i bet they would have won the game hahahah

  • 太阳三联

    Yea that’s a penalty but a ball knocked out by the defense come on now what part of the game is that

  • francesco

    Why not? Change the rule back to what it was supposed to be by the founding fathers of football.

  • francesco

    That fumble recovery by MB saved the game. Up to that point the Titans were turning the game around.

  • He’s full of malarkey!

  • Kevin78

    This is one time that a coach could have fixed the situation. Before the steelers snapped the ball, call a timeout.

  • Kevin78

    Inside 2 minutes. But he should have called a timeout when they spotted it. The most obvious and likely answer is that he didn’t remember the rule in real-time

  • Kevin78

    He didn’t or didn’t think of it at the time. If he had, he would’ve called a timeout and a review would have triggered.

  • Luke Poole

    when you lose

  • Steve

    Yes, Malarkey lost by 23 pts and should not be complaining about the bad call by the refs.

  • Daryl Bennett

    I don’t think either team had a timeout left at that point.

  • Kevin78

    You’re right. I thought he had one left. Nothing Mularkey could do that wouldn’t trigger a penalty

  • brian

    The fumble rule is black and white. The mistake would be like mistakenly counting a touchdown as 9 points. The amazing thing was how the announcers and replay officials totally missed this obvious call. I’m sure wasn’t the only one screaming at my TV.

  • brian

    They were out of timeouts. I was wondering what would have happened if he had run on the field to delay the game?

  • Kevin78

    Yup, I thought they had one left but I was wrong.

  • Roberto Vaquero Bazán

    Gladly they didn’t