Baltimore's offense was stagnant for three and a half quarters Sunday.
The Ravens needed somebody to come up with a big play to inject some energy into the unit, and wipe away a fourth-quarter deficit to keep their playoff hopes alive.
That's when quarterback Joe Flacco turned to fourth-year receiver Torrey Smith.
Flacco tossed a deep pass down the sidelines to Smith, who was in single coverage against Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden. Smith gained separation to haul in the completion for a 53-yard gain, and then followed it up with a 16-yard touchdown on the next play.
"We needed a playmaker to step up, and he stepped up. And we followed him," running back Justin Forsett said. "The spark with Torrey and Joe got us going. We started feeding off that and got some momentum."
Smith's back-to-back catches changed the game – and the season – in a matter of two plays. The touchdown gave the Ravens a 13-10 lead over the Browns, and they continued to put up points from there.
The Ravens scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and went on to win 20-10 to clinch their sixth playoff trip in the last seven seasons.
"They were giving us a chance to get over the top of them, and we were able to do it," Flacco said. "I think that's what made the difference at the end was Torrey just stepping up and getting by guys and making plays."
Smith had just two catches for 14 yards before the big plays in the fourth quarter, but he finished with four grabs for 83 yards. The breakout fourth-quarter erased the frustration from the slow start.
"We obviously started as slow as ever, but you're like, 'We have a real opportunity here. We're wasting it right now,'" Smith said. "But we got back on track and made a couple of big plays and got the win."
The fourth-quarter catches were not only critical in winning the game and getting the Ravens back to the postseason, but the touchdown* *was a career milestone for Smith. He scored his 11th touchdown of the season, giving him 10 touchdowns since Week 6.
He now has 30 touchdowns in his career, moving him past Derrick Mason for the most all-time by a Ravens receiver. Tight end Todd Heap has the most receiving touchdowns with 41 in his 10 years in Baltimore.
"There have been a couple of great guys that have played here," Smith said. "It's pretty cool to be mentioned along with some of those guys. And I have a lot of respect forMason, the guy that I passed, so that's pretty cool."
The big fourth quarter also came in what could have potentially been Smith's final game at M&T Bank Stadium because he's an unrestricted free agent after the season. Smith has said on numerous occasions that he hopes to stay in Baltimore long term, and the upcoming contract talks weren't on his mind as he helped the Ravens keep their season alive.
"I wanted to make the playoffs regardless. That has absolutely nothing to do with my future," he said. "I'm focused on now. Everything else in the future will take care of itself. We're trying to get back to where we were a couple years ago."
Smith finished the regular season with 767 receiving yards on 49 catches after a strong second half of the year, and the Ravens will count on him to come up with some more big plays as they look to make a postseason run.
He just hopes it doesn't take until the fourth quarter next week in the playoffs.
"We need to start fast against whoever we play next week," he said.
Check out the best photos from M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens battle the Browns in week 17 of the 2014 season.