Morning sports update: Mike Vrabel was asked about John Harbaugh’s postgame reaction after Titans-Ravens

Former Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler was also involved in a pregame incident.

Mike Vrabel Harbaugh
Mike Vrabel and John Harbaugh before the Titans-Ravels game on Sunday. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Patriots lost to the Texans on Sunday, 27-20. The defeat drops New England to 4-6 on the season, and in an increasingly precarious playoff position.

Elsewhere, the Celtics reportedly signed forward Jayson Tatum to a five-year extension worth $195 million.

And the Revolution, who defeated the Montreal Impact 2-1 with a dramatic last-minute goal on Friday, face the Eastern Conference’s top-seeded Philadelphia Union on Tuesday at 8 p.m. in a single elimination postseason matchup.

Mike Vrabel, Malcolm Butler, and the Titans-Ravens rivalry: The Titans, under former Patriot and current Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel, upset the top-seeded Ravens in the 2019 playoffs, 28-12.

The budding rivalry between the two teams was reinforced on Sunday not only by the back-and-forth drama of the matchup — which the Titans won again, 30-24 in overtime — but also by pre and postgame incidents involving Baltimore coach John Harbaugh.

Before the game kicked off, Titans cornerback (and former Patriot) Malcolm Butler was seen shouting at the Ravens, eventually getting face-to-face with Harbaugh.

And after the game was ended (thanks to Derrick Henry’s walk-off touchdown for Tennessee), Harbaugh appeared to refuse a postgame handshake with Vrabel.

“No handshake,” noted CBS commentator Tony Romo after seeing the replay.

Afterward, Vrabel was asked about the emotion clearly present in the matchup.

“It’s a violent game, it’s a physical game, it’s an emotional game,” said Vrabel in the postgame press conference. “So I hope we play with emotion. I hope we do things that help our team and not do things that hurt our team.”


He was then asked specifically about the Butler incident, and Harbaugh declining to shake his hand.

“I went to celebrate with Derrick and the team to congratulate him, and then I ran back and shook his hand and asked what the issue was before the game and he said there wasn’t an issue. So I went to celebrate with my football team.”

Vrabel was then asked a follow-up if Harbaugh “declined to shake [Vrabel’s] hand?”

“No, absolutely not,” Vrabel replied. “A lot of respect for John, we shook hands.”

Harbaugh, also asked about the moment, similarly downplayed the moment.

“After the game, there wasn’t an issue,” Harbaugh said. “Coach Vrabel, was down there celebrating in the end zone, and then he came back around and shook hands. [What happened] before the game is irrelevant.”

The Titans moved to 7-3 with the win, and into a tie for the lead in the AFC South with their Week 11 opponent, the Colts. Baltimore, now 6-4, next face the 10-0 Steelers.

Trivia: The last time the Patriots didn’t make the playoffs was the 2008 season. Who was New England’s leading rushing that year?

(Answer at the bottom).

Hint: Originally drafted by the Bills, he eventually played for three of the AFC East’s four teams.

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On this day: In 2014, Norwegian Magnus Carlsen defended his World Championship title in chess, defeating Viswanathan Anand in the 11th game.

Carlsen, then only 23 but already a world champion, had to fight to regain the initiative in the final game, as Anand held an early advantage. In the end, the defending champion sussed out the challenger’s plan and was able to overcome it.

Here’s a recap of their epic final game:

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Trivia answer: Sammy Morris

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