Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken has struggled to find a home in the NFL. Baltimore became his fourth employer in three years when it signed him to the practice squad on Oct. 30, 2013.
But South Florida will always be a special place to Aiken, and he felt right at home on Sunday.
Aiken slept in his hometown of Hollywood, Fla., the night before Sunday's game in Miami. He had dozens of family and friends in the stands.
Then Aiken had the best game of his four-year career, catching six passes for 65 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown that gave the Ravens the lead for good in the third quarter.
"It's always good to have a good game in front of your hometown, your home fans," Aiken said. "A lot of them are Dolphins fans. They switched over today to Ravens fans."
Aiken and Marlon Brown filled in for injured wide receiver Torrey Smith (knee), who saw just 15 snaps. Meanwhile, Aiken got a career-high 48 reps on offense. Aiken said he talked to Smith before the game, knowing he would be gimpy.
"I told him I'd have his back," Aiken said. "We are a brotherhood in our receiver room. If one of our guys is not going or not feeling too well, we're going to pick up the slack and we're not going to skip a beat."
Aiken made the most of his chances. He was targeted seven times and caught six.
He was huge on the Ravens' 97-yard touchdown drive at the end of the first half that flipped the momentum of the game. He caught four passes for 41 yards on that drive alone, capped off by wrestling a 7-yard pass away from Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes that put the Ravens on the 1-yard line.
Aiken's next catch came on the Ravens' first drive of the second half. He found an opening down the middle of the field and settled at the back of the end zone, where Flacco found him and Aiken made a nice toe-tapping, leaping grab for the 13-yard touchdown.
Aiken has shown a steady, strong set of hands that has led to some of his teammates making comparisons to former Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin. While Aiken doesn't nearly have the accomplishments of Boldin, he is improving, and he's made plays when he's been asked despite his limited opportunities. Aiken now has a career-high 22 catches for 254 yards and two scores this year.
Aiken caught three passes for 51 yards against the Chargers, including a tough sideline grab as time expired that would have given Baltimore a shot at a last-second field goal had the Ravens been able to stop the clock. Aiken was tackled just short of the sideline.
Brown also stepped up with Smith out, as he caught three passes for 30 yards including an impressive leap over a defender that ended up with him landing squarely on his back.
"It's outstanding," Steve Smith Sr. said. "Marlon and Kamar are always joking, saying that if I want to take any plays off, every play is more toward their player performance bonus.
"You can do nothing but smile. At the same time, those guys are working their tails off. They do an outstanding job during the week and it pays off during the weekend. Those guys push me and I try to push them. All we try to do is push each other."