It’s rare to see
But on Thursday night, after hauling in a 7-yard touchdown on the Ravens’ first drive, Smith threw down an uncharacteristic monster spike in the back of the end zone.
Smith was getting an earful from Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor all game, and it clearly felt good to beat him.
“He’s a great cornerback,” Smith said. “I should have had a great day, but I didn’t make enough plays. Anytime you get to go against a guy of his caliber and you do OK, it says something.”
Smith and Taylor have a long history. The third-year Ravens receiver had previously admitted that Taylor got in his head with trash talk.
When the two faced off in Week 7 in Pittsburgh, however, Taylor didn’t say a word. Smith had just three catches for 61 yards, including one for 41.
This time, Taylor was a broken record once again.
“He was talking a lot,” Smith said with a smile. “I thought we had grown past that.”
Smith said it’s fun to play against Taylor because he’s a “great player.” In his 11th season, Taylor has long been respected as one of the best corners in the league.
Smith got to him early with a 54-yard bomb.
On the Ravens’ first offensive series, Smith found room behind a trio of Steelers. He ran a deep post and stayed inside of Taylor, who was never close. Safety Troy Polamalu jumped the route and was out of position. Cornerback Cortez Allen prevented a touchdown by tackling Smith on the 1-yard line.
Smith thought he had a touchdown and one referee seemed to signal that before spotting him just short. Three plays later, Smith finished it off with a 7-yard catch on a slant over the middle.
Then he threw down the spike.
“I thought I scored the first time, so the second time I was mad and I spiked the ball,” he said.
Smith was kicking himself for a couple of drops he had that could have helped the Ravens pull away from the Steelers. He had a long pass along the right sideline in the second half go incomplete as he tried to make a sliding snag.
But overall, Smith is having a breakout season. He’s set a single-season career high in catches with 54 through 12 games. His previous best was 50 as a rookie in 2011. He’s got 952 receiving yards, which puts him on pace for 1,269 for the season, which would set a new franchise record.
Harbaugh said the Ravens wanted to take advantage of the Steelers leaving receivers in one-on-one coverage early in the game to back up their defense.
The Ravens are making a point of trying to hit more big plays after struggling in that area most of the year. Smith also had a 60-yard catch against the Jets on Sunday.
“We do think we can make plays down the field with our guys,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve felt that way all year, and hopefully here in the next four weeks and pushing into the playoffs if we can make this run, that should be a big part of our offense.”