Torrey Smith Keeps Faith, Breaks Out


Wide receiver Torrey Smith is a man of faith, as is Head Coach John Harbaugh.

So with Smith going through the roughest stretch of his career since his rookie year, and Smith also going through some unspecified personal problems, they both leaned on that faith.

A week after dropping a fourth-down pass on the Ravens' final comeback effort in Indianapolis, Smith scored the Ravens' first two touchdowns on Sunday, kicking off a 48-17 rout in Tampa Bay.

Smith finished with four catches for 51 yards and the two touchdowns. Both scores in the first quarter came off slants – the first for 15 yards and the second for 9.

It was the breakthrough Smith and the Ravens have been waiting for.

"I think everything happens for a reason," Smith said. "Everything has been a test for me, both on and off the field, and I'm trying to respond the best way I can. I'll be better for it."

Smith entered Sunday with just 11 catches for 176 yards and one score in the Ravens' first five games, far below his career pace.

It led to questions about whether Smith fit into new Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak's system, and whether he could find a role opposite Steve Smith Sr., who has dominated the targets.

Smith showed another element to his game Sunday. Often used for vertical routes to maximize his speed, Smith exposed the Bucs' off-coverage on quick slants, and made strong catches in traffic despite taking hits soon after the catch.

"That's how I expect to play every week; it just doesn't [always] happen," Smith said.

"It was important to build some positive momentum for myself and to get going for our team. The better I play, the better situations our team will be put in, and I understand that. I have a major role on this team, which I love and embrace, and it's important for me to play at a high level at all times."

Harbaugh said he didn't doubt his receiver's ability to rebound. Smith has been taking extra passes after practice and working hard, as always, to try to get out of the slump. It was more of a mental issue, and Harbaugh said Sunday's game means a lot in terms of Smith's confidence.

"[It's] the understanding that perseverance pays off," Harbaugh said.

"You can't get down on yourself, you can't mope around. You've just got to go for it. You've got to find a way to turn it around and come out the other end. Eventually it's going to happen if you keep your faith. He's too good of a player not to be making plays like that, and it was just a matter of time."

While his younger counterpart got all the early action, Steve Smith Sr. could only sit back and watch in admiration.

"Joe [Flacco] threw some excellent passes. He threw some darts in there to Torrey early. I was happy for Torrey. I was just sitting watching going, 'Wow!' He threw some darts in there to Torrey. There were some heat-seekers in there and it was right on target."

The Ravens have been waiting for a receiver other than Smith Sr. to break out. Torrey Smith wasn't the only one to do so Sunday.

The No. 4 receiver on the depth chart, Kamar Aiken caught a 17-yard touchdown on the Ravens' third offensive drive. Then rookie seventh-round pick Michael Campanaro, who was active for the first time this year, went up high to wrestle a 19-yard touchdown pass away from the defender.

Aiken entered the game with six catches for 60 yards. It was his first score of the season and his three-year career.

Smith Sr. said Harbaugh told him on the sideline to keep working hard, so that when the defense started to focus elsewhere, he would be ready. He did just that.

The other receivers' early-game success helped open things up for Smith Sr., who caught a 56-yard touchdown for the Ravens' fourth score. Smith Sr. then continued to find room to operate, and finished with five catches for 110 yards.

Asked after the game if he had ever seen an offense click like the Ravens did, Smith Sr. had a big grin on his face.

"No, that was pretty cool," he said with a laugh.

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