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Lewan Apologizes to Teammates for Late Penalty


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan's late-game penalty was on full display on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

Behind closed doors, Lewan apologized to his teammates in the locker room after the game.

Lewan was called for unnecessary roughness in the game's final minute, after the Titans had reached the Oakland three-yard line on a Marcus Mariota pass to receiver Tajae Sharpe. It was one of the most talked about plays in the wake of a comeback attempt that fell short in a 17-10 loss to the Raiders.

"I really have no idea why they called it,'' Lewan said. "I've done that before. I saw the receiver up, trying to struggle to get more yards, and a bunch of Raiders were jumping on him and I was just trying to help my teammate. It obviously hurt more than it helped.

"I told the team: 'I'm sorry. I thought (the runner) was up.' … I just want to stay physical and do my job the right way."

Titans coach Mike Mularkey hesitated to criticize Lewan, while Mariota had his teammate's back.

"We love his effort, and that's what makes this team better -- his effort and him trying to lay it all on the line for us,'' Mariota said of Lewan. "I told him, 'Don't change.' That is the type of mentality we want around here. We want that effort. We want that effort through the whistle. I told him, "Don't change -- just continue to be yourself."

Here's the play in question:

After three straight completions by Mariota, the quarterback connected with Sharpe inside the Oakland five-yard line with less than a minute remaining. Sharpe managed to fight his way to the three-yard line before being swarmed by several Raiders. Lewan then made contact with players in the pile, and a penalty flag was thrown. Titans center Ben Jones also came flying into the area on the play in question.

Mularkey said he liked the effort, but acknowledged "it was not a good decision."

"There's a fine line there,'' Mularkey said. "The runner is still running, and they are still tackling. And all he was doing is he was still blocking. It's a fine line, it's how they call it. It happens all the time. I know their hitters come in and take shots all the time while a runner is still up, and it's a fine line.

"I want them all down there (blocking). I want them all helping the ball, their teammates carrying the ball. They've got to make a good decision when they do that. That was not a good decision. We weren't going any further, but I don't think it was too late on the hit."

The 15-yard penalty moved the Titans from the three-yard line to the 18-yard line.

Moments later, after an apparent touchdown pass to receiver Andre Johnson was negated because of an offensive pass interference penalty on Johnson, the Titans weren't able to finish the drive.

Lewan stayed in the locker room to address reporters. Lewan said he wants to play with an edge, and vowed to continue doing so. But he said he was "bummed."

"It's the NFL, no one got anywhere being soft,'' he said. "I'm disappointed because I got a penalty and that's not what you want. But the play was still going. He was up. I was going to clear the pile to help. If a bunch of guys were jumping on you, wouldn't you want me to help you? I am bummed out, but I was just doing what I thought was right. But I am not going to shy away from being physical."

The Tennessee Titans take on the Oakland Raiders in Week 3 action at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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