The Baltimore Ravens‘ 20-13 wild card victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday became more than a ticket punched to the playoffs. In fact, “Riptide Rush” used the final moments of the game to exact a bit of revenge and send a message to the Titans.
With under two minutes to play, Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters intercepted a pass and then, with 15 of his teammates, ran to midfield to stomp and celebrate on the Tennessee logo.
Then, to close out his first career playoff win and with less than 40 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson took a knee to run out the clock and then ran into the locker room without engaging in any of the customary postgame handshakes or hugs with any of the Titans. A number of his teammates followed him into the tunnel, and the entire episode left fans divided on how to interpret the move.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) January 10, 2021
Some Twitter fans saw Jackson’s exit as an oversight, while others thought it was a classless, “Tom Brady-esque” thing to do.
Jackson used his postgame interview to make sure there was no confusion: “I feel it was just disrespect to see what went on before the game the last time we played those guys, and they were standing on our logo and seeing them get into it with our coach… That was just disrespectful, because we treat all of our opponents with respect. It wasn’t no reason for us to shake hands and stuff like that. We’ll be the bigger guy, so we just walked off the field. I feel like we were being the bigger guys.”
"It's not about me and Derrick Henry. … It's about Ravens vs. Titans."
Lamar Jackson all about the team victory 💯 pic.twitter.com/7wRexGv8Ja
— ESPN (@espn) January 10, 2021
The incident Jackson referred to was when both teams met in November of last year in Baltimore. Before kickoff in that game, Titans players congregated on the Ravens’ logo, and that did not sit well with Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh. In that game, after the Titans beat the Ravens, Titans coach Mike Vrabel went to shake Harbaugh’s hand, but Harbaugh waved him off, and so Vrabel walked away.
Lamar Jackson said he walked off the field at the end of the game and didn't shake hands with the Titans because of what transpired before the last game in November, when the Titans huddled on the Ravens' logo.
Jackson said that was disrespectful.
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) January 10, 2021
Titans offensive tackle Dennis Kelly wasn’t clear on how the whole beef came to be. According to him, the Titans have always gathered at midfield before kickoff, so this was nothing particularly new. “I don’t know what that whole ‘disrespectful’ thing came from. If that’s what Harbaugh wanted to use to motivate them, I guess it worked.”
Harbaugh himself was not asked about the matter. But when Vrabel was asked about the Ravens and his thoughts on the Ravens’ payback, Vrabel kept it short and sweet: “I coach the Titans, not the Ravens.”