MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Tennessee Titans said they heard the whistle and stopped playing.
Reshad Jones kept going.
Jones scored on a 38-yard fumble return as players on both teams stood and watched, and the bizarre first-quarter score became the difference Sunday when the Miami Dolphins won 16-10.
The Titans were also unhappy about an offensive pass interference penalty that negated a long touchdown. Left tackle Taylor Lewan said the disputed rulings were part of a pattern.
“It’s pretty consistent,” Lewan said. “Is it because we’re the Titans? What’s the deal? We need to play against one team instead of two.”
Jones’ touchdown came after Titans quarterback Matt Cassel fumbled with his arm cocked when hit by Kiko Alonso. The ball squirted forward 14 yards, and Jones scooped it as other players stopped, thinking the play had ended with an incomplete pass.
The Titans didn’t chase Jones, and the officials didn’t initially signal a score. Referee Bill Vinovich eventually announced the loose ball was a fumble and awarded Miami a touchdown.
“We all, as an offensive line, heard a whistle,” Lewan said. “We all stopped, and I ended up getting hit late. That ball should have come back. If you have five guys that hear a whistle, obviously there was a whistle.”
Following a replay review the call was upheld, giving the Dolphins a 10-0 lead.
“Our guys heard a whistle,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “They’ve already come down from New York that there wasn’t a whistle, but I think I’ll believe my offensive linemen before I believe anybody in New York.”
Jones was rewarded for following an old rule.
“The ball’s on the ground — pick it up. You never know,” Jones said. “I just did a great job of finishing the play.”
An earlier ruling was just as costly to Tennessee. A 59-yard touchdown reception by Delanie Walker was negated by a pass interference penalty on Jonnu Smith.
“Where that came from, I don’t know,” Mularkey said. “Poor call, really poor call.”
Said Smith: “Extremely questionable. I felt a lot of calls were questionable.”
Smith also summed up the situation regarding the Titans’ frustration about officiating.
“You’ve just got to move on,” he said.