The action started early between the Ravens and Titans on Sunday. And it involved the head coaches.
John Harbaugh appeared to take exception to Tennessee holding a pregame meeting on the Ravens logo and could be seen confronting Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler, while receiver A.J. Brown intervened. Words were exchanged but nothing more. Mike Vrabel and Harbaugh then addressed the situation with an official, the former seemingly irritated that this had become a thing.
The 2019 Divisional Round opponents saved the real drama for the game. Derrick Henry’s 29-yard touchdown scamper in overtime gave Tennessee a 30-24 victory, its second in Baltimore in 10 months. That put the Titans (7-3) atop the AFC South and left the Ravens (6-4) on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
It also led to a briefer postgame exchange between Harbaugh and Vrabel.
The two coaches downplayed their dust-ups afterward.
“After the game, there wasn’t an issue,” Harbaugh told reporters. “Coach Vrabel, I think, was down there celebrating in the end zone, and then he came back around and shook hands. (What happened) before the game is irrelevant.”
Vrabel added: “I went to celebrate with Derrick and congratulate him, and then I ran back and shook (John Harbaugh’s) hand. I asked what the issue was before the game and he said there wasn’t an issue.”
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported the Titans rejoiced in their stirring win by singing the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” a favorite of Ravens fans. While it didn’t elicit a reaction from Baltimore, Brown admitted Tennessee was charged by the pregame squabble.
“(The Ravens) kind of set the bar real high when we came in,” Brown told Garafolo. “The coaches — not even the players — the coaches came at us, so it was like, ‘We see what type of game it is.’ It was going to be a big-boy fight.”