Steve Smith: This Is Why I'm Here – To Make Plays


When it came to making a critical play down the stretch in Sunday's game, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco called out a subtle change to wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. as they exited the huddle.

It didn't matter that Smith was lined up against the Browns' best cornerback, Joe Haden, a 2013 Pro Bowler. Flacco didn't even realize that Haden was in coverage until after the game.

Flacco was going to Smith.

The Ravens were at Cleveland's 45-yard line with less than a 90 seconds remaining, trailing by a point. They needed one more big play to set up the game-winning field goal.

That's when Flacco threw a dart down the right sideline, hitting Smith for a 32-yard gain that essentially won the game. The catch put the Ravens comfortably in field-goal range for Justin Tucker's 32-yard boot as time expired on Baltimore's 23-21 victory.

"It was for moments like that that we brought Steve Smith in here," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

"We had plays in critical situations. I'll start with Steve Smith, who is sitting right over here, and Joe Flacco. For those two guys to make the plays they did in this game in critical situations to give us a chance to win the game, that's what great players do. That's what a great player, No. 89, and a great player, No. 5, did."

Smith finished the game with a team-high five receptions for 101 yards. He is averaging 97 yards receiving and six catches per game through his first three contests as a Raven.

Sunday's catch against the Browns is his biggest yet in purple and black.

"I think it was as good as it gets thus far," he said. "It's been a short ride thus far, but it's been awesome."

Before the Ravens' last drive, Smith said Ravens coaches came up to him and fellow wideout Torrey Smith and told them somebody was going to have to make a play in order to win.

"I said, 'That's what we're here for is to make plays,'" Smith said. "When John brought me here, he brought me here to make plays and help. That's what I'm going to do – make plays.

"It doesn't matter who I'm playing. It doesn't matter what division, what conference. When I accept that jersey, I'm expected to make plays. That's what I expect from myself and that's what I'll do every day."

As they broke the huddle, Flacco called out to Smith to run a slant-and-go route. Flacco also said he communicated with Torrey Smith on the play, but ended up going to the elder Smith.

"I know I communicated very well with Steve," Flacco said. "If I got one high and I got a shot on whoever it was out there, I was taking it. It didn't matter. I wanted to take a shot there and it worked out well."

Smith Sr., of course, wanted the ball.

"When I line up, I think there's no better option than myself," he said.

He didn't take all the credit himself, however. Smith gave kudos to Flacco for staying cool under pressure.

The Ravens offense had a chance to re-take the lead the drive before as well, but ended up having to punt. Flacco didn't have one of his best days, but ended up leading the game-winning drive.

"For a long time, the way I grew up, I've always worked well in chaos," Smith said. "As I've gotten older, I prefer calm. It's been refreshing to come in here, and the quarterback, the huddle, is calm. That makes it so much easier to concentrate and do your job."

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