I can’t believe I have to argue with Ed Reed. Ed Reed! I say this with all due respect (but really) to the Ravens icon.
You know the deal. The Ravens finally claimed their first playoff victory of the Lamar Jackson era by beating the Titans Jan. 10 in Nashville. They’re on to face Buffalo now as we remember that as important as this one was, it merely matched Elvis Grbac’s career Ravens playoff wins total for quarterbacks. It’s a big step! But it’s still a step! There are far more significant steps to be climbed. (Remind me that I want to have a conversation about how it feels like it should be “clumb” or something like that instead of “climbed” on another day.)
After what was essentially the game-clinching late interception of Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Peters led Ravens players to the midfield logo to stomp and dance, similar to the Titans’ regular pregame ritual that has irked Ravens fans, players, coaches and I’m sure many others.
Because this is what we do, the internet exploded after the antics. Sure, this is the same country where there was an (checks notes) ACTUAL INSURRECTION just days ago where Americans attempted to murder the Vice President and perhaps overthrow the government but yeah, this topic totally seems worthy of the attention it received.
If it weren’t for Reed, I’d say something sweeping like, “No one is actually mad that the Ravens danced and stomped on a logo. They’re mad their team lost.” And for the most part, I feel that way. No one can possibly care this much about stomping and dancing. Did we care this much when Eddie Cochran was raising fusses and hollers to try to cure his summertime blues?
To be clear, I didn’t think it was smart in the moment and I stand by that. But that’s not because of “sportsmanship” or whatever stupid reason your uncle is screaming about. It’s because the game wasn’t ACTUALLY over yet. The Titans still had their three timeouts. If for some reason they had gotten a stop and gone on to win the football game, the Ravens would have never lived the stunt down. Moreover, the 15 yards could have potentially hurt the chances of a long field goal attempt even if they didn’t get a game-icing first down or made them less inclined to attempt to convert on fourth down and put the game on ice due to field position.
I would have preferred they do that if they had made a stop with, say, 30 seconds left. But the actual routine? It’s just not worth getting worked up about. When you win, you get to celebrate. That’s how professional sports works. This isn’t third grade kickball. Titans players are getting compensated for their efforts. Their feelings need not be protected. If they had won, they would have been able to celebrate. These are all adults. They’re big boys. They understand how this works.
The Ravens wanted to celebrate and they wanted to rub it in their opponents’ face a little bit because they haven’t always appreciated their opponents’ antics. That’s all just fine! In fact, it’s, dare I say, kinda fun! Not “Sean Payton getting slimed” fun, but fun! No actual Titans were hurt in the filming of this routine!
Reed says the Ravens should have won “with class.” I’m not exactly sure what that means. Should the players have stuck around to participate in the traditional postgame handshake line? Well … perhaps in the midst of a pandemic, no. No they shouldn’t have. But since they’ve done it in other games and it’s clear the decision had nothing to do with the pandemic, I dunno, sure, I guess.
The Ravens clearly used the Titans’ past antics to motivate them for this football game. It’s hard for me to be angry that the strategy worked and they couldn’t quickly abandon it afterward. My guess is that, again, the Titans will survive the indignity of not getting the chance to congratulate Ravens players on beating them after the game. Generically, I prefer to see such traditions. But they’re not going to determine a Super Bowl champion this season based on who the most humble team was and which guys gave the firmest postgame handshakes.
This was a massive victory against a team that hasn’t always shown significant humility. It’s OK. We’ll all be all right. We’ll somehow get through this dark period in our history. Our republic will survive.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox