The Ravens got a big 44-20 win over the Detroit Lions, but lost top cornerback Jimmy Smith in the process.
Smith tore his Achilles in the second quarter of the game, Head Coach John Harbaugh confirmed, and will be out for the rest of the season.
"It really is [disappointing]," Harbaugh said. "He has played so well. He has played, I think, at an All-Pro level this year."
Smith wasn't involved in the play late in the second quarter, but went down in obvious pain and didn't move. Teammates shook their heads and fellow cornerback Brandon Carr couldn't watch.
"That is my best friend on the field," Carr said. "I know the work he's put in this year, the expectations he had and the season he's been having. He's been balling. I wanted Jimmy to play 16 to show everybody that he's that lockdown corner. It got to me a little bit."
It's the same Achilles that has been sore throughout much of the season, leading to questions about whether the soreness contributed to the tear.
Smith has consistently been on the team's injury report since Week 5, but he's played in every game. The Ravens rested him during the week in practice in hopes that he would be well enough to play.
"Doctors will tell you that you just can't predict that. If you have the tightness or soreness, it doesn't lead to Achilles [tears]," Harbaugh said. "Doing it for all these years, I've seen it not tear and I've seen them tear."
It's even more heartbreaking for Smith because he's in the middle of his finest season, and had a good shot at going to his first Pro Bowl.
Smith* *has been the league's best cover cornerback, according to Pro Football Focus, for much of the season, and has done it despite playing through pain.
Through the Ravens' first 10 games, Smith gave up just 17 receptions for 153 yards. He had a tougher time with the Houston Texans last week and surrendered one 31-yard grab to Lions receiver Kenny Golladay in the first half Sunday. He hasn't allowed a touchdown.
Smith has 26 tackles and three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. He also returned a fumble for a touchdown.
It's a huge loss for the Ravens considering Smith's talent and high level of play this season, but it's one that the team is better suited to handle this year considering the talent and depth at cornerback.
Rookie first-round pick Marlon Humphrey, who has also played extremely well, stepped in for Smith opposite Carr. The team also has Maurice Canady, Lardarius Webb and undrafted rookie Jaylen Hill, who has been a healthy scratch in recent weeks.
Humphrey was tested by Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and his talented receivers, and gave up a couple long plays, but rebounded to make a clutch interception in the fourth quarter.
"It's different than it was before," Harbaugh said. "We have a lot of depth. We have a lot of good, young players. We'll step up and still play at a really high level in the secondary. I'm really confident in that."
Now Smith, who has dealt with numerous injuries during his career, including a difficult Lisfranc injury, will have to make a major offseason recovery once again to be ready for his eighth NFL season.
He'll have a couple veterans to lean on with outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and tight end Benjamin Watson, who have both suffered Achilles tears in the past.
"We have the best training staff in the NFL to get him back. I went through it twice and they got me back," Suggs said. "Jimmy will be back next year, full-fledged, ready to go and he'll still come back and be one of the best corners in the league."
"It just brings back horrible memories and I know what he's going to go through," Watson added. "But Jimmy is a fighter and one of the best athletes I've ever been around, and I have no doubt he'll be back soon."
Check out the best photos from M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens battle the Lions in week 13!