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Emotional Steve Smith Feels 'Relief' After Final NFL Game


Nobody put more pressure on Steve Smith Sr. to perform than Steve Smith Sr.

For 16 years, Smith has demanded playmaking day in and day out, year in and year out.

So when he finished the final game of his career in Cincinnati, Smith actually felt weight come off his shoulders.

"A little bit of relief," Smith said of his feelings after the game.

"Playing this game and the expectations that's expected from you, it's a lot of pressure. The pressure I'll have now is getting the kids to school on time, a pint of ice cream or a gallon of ice cream."

Smith said he took this week to, for once, stop and enjoy the view. The short-statured wide receiver is so competitive and so often looking for his next fight that he didn't often do that over his career.

On Wednesday, he waxed poetic about the frost on the practice field. After Sunday's game, Smith actually sought out some Bengals players he's had beef with, including linebacker Vontaze Burfict and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, to give them a hug.

Smith was on the last Ravens bus to arrive at Paul Brown Stadium Sunday. He sat all the way in the back. He was the last one on the last bus.

He said he was too emotional to talk about his thoughts in the final minutes of Sunday's game, especially as teammates came to him on the bench to say a few final words.

"I enjoyed it, but it's over and done. I know it's my time," Smith said. "People tell me I should play another year and I probably could. But what I'd lose, I'm not willing to risk."

Smith's final game didn't go exactly the way he would have liked. The Ravens lost, 27-10, and Smith caught just three passes for 34 yards. But even that didn't seem to bother him all that much after the final whistle blew.

"A lot of things came in this week and I just said, 'I'm just going to play, not concern myself with getting more passes or going out like [NBA star] Kobe [Bryant]. Just go play,'" Smith said. "That's what I did."

Smith's first catch of the game came late in the first quarter on a crossing pattern. He popped after a 13-yard gain, got up and, in his trademark style, spun the ball in Bengals safety Shawn Williams' face.

In the second quarter, as he was leaping for an uncatchable ball from Flacco on the sideline, Smith was drilled in the back by Williams, which drew a flag for unnecessary roughness. Smith popped to his feet and went after Williams like he was about to fight him. Classic Smith.

Smith caught his second pass midway through the third quarter. It was a gain of 14 and Smith launched himself at a Bengals defender as he went out of bounds. He fought for every inch.

His final catch was on a crossing route on third down. A gain of 7 yards moved the chains, but the Ravens came up short on fourth down later in the drive.

At the end of 16 seasons, Smith's final receiving stats are 1,031 receptions for 14,731 yards and 81 touchdowns. He finished with 89 total touchdowns (receiving, rushing, returning) – matching his jersey number. He's seventh all-time in receiving yards.

They're Hall of Fame-worthy numbers, but aren't something Smith was concerned with after the game.

"I've never really seen myself as anything special; I've just worked out of fear," Smith said.

While the North Carolina resident said he'll come back to Baltimore from time to time, he talked about how he'll miss his teammates.

That doesn't trump, however, how much he's looking forward to being with his family. He talked about trips to Disney World and smiled when saying he'll be at the pool when his teammates go back to training camp next year.

"My kids miss me and I miss them," Smith said. "I look forward to that."

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