Earlier this season when some fans and pundits seemed ready to jump off the Torrey Smith bandwagon, Joe Flacco didn't budge.
The veteran quarterback defended the receiver despite his slow start, and expressed confidence that Smith would eventually break out to play a critical role down the stretch.
Flacco's attitude is proving prudent, and he reminded reporters of that after Sunday's victory where Smith caught his fifth touchdown pass in as many games.
"I've been saying that Torrey is going to prove to be a huge asset for us, just like he has been," Flacco said. "People were kind of asking, 'Where is he?' in the beginning part of the season. I knew as the season would go along and people were starting to worry about Steve [Smith] and Owen [Daniels] and all the guys we have, that Torrey would get chances to make some big plays."
Smith came up with a clutch catch in Sunday's 21-7 victory over the Titans, as he hauled in a 32-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal the win. He finished the game with five catches for 75 yards and the score.
His touchdown also came when he was held on the play to draw a flag on the defender.
"To go make a play like that, it says a lot about Torrey," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
Smith has now put together his best two-game stretch of the season, catching nine passes for 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Titans and Steelers. He's also getting more looks from Flacco, who has thrown Smith's direction 15 times the last two weeks.
The two appear to be developing more of a rhythm, which could lead to more big plays from Smith down the stretch.
"That's what he's done when he's gotten the opportunity," Flacco said about Smith coming up with key catches.
With the exception of a Week 8 game against the Bengals where he was held without a catch, Smith has come on strong the last month.
Here's an overview of his season after the first 10 weeks:
First five games: 11 catches, 176 yards, 1 touchdown
Last five games: 16 catches, 270 yards, 5 touchdowns
Smith now has 27 catches for 446 yards and a team-leading six touchdowns on the season.
"I really should have had some more," Smith said. "I have to do some more work and be consistent and also take what's there, not necessarily go for the homerun."
Smith has a history of heating up at this point of the season. He's played his best football in November, and he has more touchdowns (10) and catches (62) than any other month of his career.
The fourth-year receiver and his teammates now have a chance to get some rest over the bye week before returning to work next Monday, and Smith will use the time off to gear up for a critical run in the final six games.
"We can get away from football for a little bit and get our bodies back," Smith said. "We're going to come back ready to go for a tough stretch."