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NFL admits officiating mistake in negating Titans' surprise onside kick

The NFL admitted on Tuesday that referee Walt Anderson’s crew erred on Sunday when it negated a Tennessee Titans onside kick against the Los Angeles Rams.

The Titans scored in the third quarter to tie the game, 20-20, on a DeMarco Murray touchdown run.

Tennessee successfully pulled off a surprise onside kick after the score, with Brynden Trawick recovering for the Titans. But Los Angeles wasn’t in position to field the ball (likely because it was a surprise onside kick), and the officials threw a flag.

Tennessee Titans punter Brett Kern argues his case with referee Walt Anderson in the second half of Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams. Anderson’s crew made a second-half mistake that negated a successful onside kick for Tennessee. (AP)

Without explaining why the flag was thrown, it was picked up. Anderson announced to the crowd at Nissan Stadium that the Rams had called a timeout, then said they hadn’t, then ruled that the ball was never officially put in play.

Anderson’s crew forced Tennessee to kick again, and the Titans opted to kick deep.

They went on to lose, 27-23.

“The officials inadvertently miscommunicated to the Los Angeles sideline that it was a full timeout instead of a 30-second timeout” following Murray’s touchdown, NFL spokesman Michael Signora wrote in an email to The Tennesseean. “When L.A. was not ready for the kickoff due to the miscommunication, the officials decided to shut it down and allow for a re-kick.”

Signora was asked if the officials will face repercussions and replied, “Every play of every game is evaluated, both for calls that are made and those that are not made. This also includes an evaluation of game administration, such as this situation.”

The highest-graded officiating crews during the regular season receive postseason assignments.

After the game, Titans kicker Ryan Succop said an official put the ball in play, gave the signal to begin play, and that the play clock was running when he kicked the ball.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey was understandably upset about the confusion and lost opportunity after the game.

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