Champ Bailey was one of
But on Saturday night, Smith took the 12-time Pro Bowler to school.
The second-year wide receiver routinely burned Bailey and caught three passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns in the Ravens’ 38-35 double overtime divisional round victory.
It’s the first time a Ravens player has ever caught two touchdown passes in a single game in postseason history.
“I was just beating him. I can’t really say there was any science to it,” Smith said.
“He’s a great player. He’s actually one of my favorite players I liked watching growing up. He’s just like anyone else. I’m a competitor. He’s a competitor. You win some, you lose some.”
Bailey won the regular-season battle three weeks earlier. He held Smith to just one catch for 14 yards.
But Smith felt like he was getting open then and the Ravens just weren’t able to get him the ball. He knew his speed was too much for Bailey, who is 11 years Smith’s senior at 34 years old.
Smith burned past Bailey in the first quarter and quarterback
“I just kind of lost him,” Bailey said. “He got away from me. He is fast. If you lose him at the line, he is going to get by you.”
Smith coasted past Bailey twice more in the first half but Flacco couldn’t connect with him. Once the pass went off Smith’s hands and another was just a bit too deep.
“I probably could have had four touchdowns today,” Smith said with a chuckle.
The Ravens kept taking their shots.
Flacco and Smith connected once again at the end of the first half. Smith was running hip-to-hip this time with Bailey, but Flacco’s pass allowed Smith to readjust. Smith said Flacco simply gave him a shot.
Smith leapt high and snatched the pass above Bailey’s head before cruising into the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown to close the first half and tie the game at 21.
“He made a good play. I was in position, but he made a good play,” Bailey said. “That is why he is in the league. … He’s a good player.”
Despite predictions that Smith would top 1,000 yards this year, his regular-season numbers finished much like his rookie campaign. He had one fewer catch, 14 more receiving yards and one more touchdown.
Last year, Smith logged three catches for 82 yards and a touchdown in the AFC championship in New England. Now he’ll look to repeat or better that performance in this year’s conference title game.
“[I’m improving] in every phase, in every way,” Smith said. “I’m still learning and growing each and every day. I’m still looking at receiver as a new thing for me. I’ll never be complacent."