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

Divisional Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 13: Eric Decker #87 of the Tennessee Titans catches a pass as he is defended by Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots in the second quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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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.