Munchak stands by his call, challenges refs' call after loss

Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 6:07pm

Mike Munchak was quick to say it was a bad call.

Not the one he made with 1:07 to play in regulation when he elected to punt rather than attempt a go-ahead field goal. The Tennessee Titans coach believed wholeheartedly in that one.

It was the referees’ decision to rule the forward progress of Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen was stopped with 18 seconds remaining that irked Munchak because it cost his team a takeaway and — ultimately — any chance at a victory. Having retained possession, the Colts ran off the remainder of regulation, got the ball to start overtime and drove 80 yards in nine plays to a touchdown that doomed the Titans to a 19-13 defeat Sunday at LP Field.

“It was a bad call,” he said. “… It’s a huge play at a huge time in the game. You wish it had gone the other way where [the officials] let the play go and then they could decide if the guy was down by contact or not. When you rule forward progress it stopped then you can’t go back and review the play.”

When the Titans (3-5) look back on this contest they will find no shortage of things they could have done differently, particularly given the fact that they scored a field goal on their opening possession and never trailed during regulation.

For example, penalties cost them dearly. An offside call against defensive tackle Mike Martin negated a Kamerion Wimbley fumble recovery, and two offensive pass interference calls against Kenny Britt wiped out a 23-yard gain and a 22-yard touchdown reception. All told they were flagged eight times — as many as the previous two games combined — for 65 yards.

Tennessee did not commit a turnover but was set back by a fumbled snap on second-and-goal from the 7 early in the fourth quarter and forced to settle for a field goal. Kicker Rob Bironas missed a third-quarter field goal try that would have put the Titans up by 10. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck overthrew tight end Jared Cook in the final minute of regulation.

“I’m almost stunned, sort of shocked,” Hasselbeck said. “I … don’t really understand how we lost the game. I’m just sort of at a loss about that. We let them hang around and it was a seven-point game in the fourth quarter. Anything can happen when you give them a chance like that.”

What happened was that the Colts (4-3) scored their first touchdown of the contest, and tied the score 13-13 with 3:24 to play in regulation on a 14-play, 80-yard drive that lasted more than seven minutes. Combined, the teams had seven possessions of 10 plays or more and all but one resulted in points. Each side went three-and-out just once.

Forced to finally pick up the pace, the Titans got first downs on three of the first five snaps of their final possession and had a first-and-10 at the Indianapolis 42 with 1:21 left. They gained one yard on the next three snaps and elected to punt rather than allow Bironas to attempt a 59-yard field goal – with the wind at his back.

Nearly six years ago, the kicker made a 60-yard field goal as time expired — in the same direction — to defeat the Colts. That one was on the final play of the game.

“Too much time left to leave them the ball there [if we miss],” Munchak said. “Even if we make it … they get the ball and still have a chance to do something. I just thought it was too far at that point.”

The decision almost paid off when it appeared linebacker Akeem Ayers stripped Allen and Alterraun Verner recovered at about the Colts’ 25. Instead, officials made the ‘forward progress’ call.

Then Indianapolis won the coin flip to start overtime, and the Titans never got their hands on the ball again. Vick Ballard’s 16-yard touchdown reception, a play which was reviewed and upheld, ended it 4:49 into the extra period.

“We didn’t play good enough to get it done,” Munchak said. “… I thought we would make more plays than we did. I thought we would play a little better than we did.”

He’s not about to think twice about the decision to punt, though.

5 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 10/28/12 at 4:22

If my eleven year old grandson asked me for an appropriate and actual defintion of the word "mediocre" I would present him with the 52 year old record of wins and losses by the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise.

It is good that some people are entertained by this.

They got me for 8 or nine years and then I caught on.

By: David_S on 10/28/12 at 4:25

The biggest blown call, though, was back when you signed CJ to his contract extension/renegotiation. Still paying for that one. Granted, he had a better game today, but at the end of the day he was a pretty mediocre running back, and the Titans aren't paying him mediocre running back money.

By: Heat Lightnin on 10/28/12 at 7:24

Thank you, Rasputin, you never miss an opportunity to make people feel bad.

By: 4gold on 10/29/12 at 6:30

Went to my first Titan game of the year and the comments I heard around me were all synacle. I sinced no enthusiasm for this team. It was a boreing, low scoring, penalty riddled game. And they lost to a team in its first year of rebuilding. Titans have been rebuilding for a decade now.

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!

By: jwk6179 on 10/29/12 at 8:28

I was hearing on the radio this morning the members of the Nashville Sports Media whining that the Titans should have been 4-4 this morning instead of 3-5. Look at the bright side, the Titans could have very well been 0-8 or 1-7 this morning instead of 4-4. The 3 games that the Titans won this season (Lions, Steelers, Bills) they could have just as easily lost while yesterdays game against the Colts was the only game they've lost so far that they could have just as easily won. So, 3-5 is much better than what could have been at this point of the season.