Even the biggest Torrey Smith fans couldn’t have predicted what he’d accomplish with the Ravens in his rookie year. Two games into the season, Ravens veteran wide receiver Lee Evans went down with an ankle injury. In week 3, the Ravens started Torrey Smith in place of Evans, and Smith made history from the get-go by becoming the only receiver in NFL history to score touchdowns on the first 3 receptions of his career! This occurred at St. Louis, all in the 1st quarter! Here are highlights of the 3 TDs:
In 14 games, Smith totaled 50 receptions for 841 yards, with 7 TDs. Ravens fans will remember his game winning TD in the final 8 seconds against Pitt, along with his 38 yard TD catch against the Bengals at home to give the Ravens a 31-14 lead.
All of these TDs were game changers. But what most people may not realize is what Torrey Smith did for the Ravens, where there are no stats to show for it. Below I've listed 3 major, game changing plays, that were critical in 3 Raven's victories this season. I'll list them one by one:
1. 1/1/12: Ravens 24 Cinn 16: Ray Rice’s 70 Yard TD, Initiated by Torrey Smith’s Fake “End Around Play”: This was a crucial road win for the Ravens that clinched a bye and home playoff game for the 1st time in 8 consecutive postseason visits. In order for the Ravens to beat the Bengals in Cincy, they’d likely have to get an early lead. Playing from behind was not one of the Raven’s strengths on the road this year. Of course, we all remember Ray Rice’s 70 yard run in the 1st quarter that put the Ravens up early 7-0. But what most don’t realize is how the play developed. (see video below.) As Ray Rice busted through the hole created by the O-line at the line of scrimmage…it was alllllll daylight/no one in sight for ~20-30 yards, where Rice had the longest run of his career. Where did the Bengal’s safety go on this play? The answer lies in the Torrey Smith factor! With blazing 4.43 40 speed, Smith causes matchup nightmares for opposing D’s. And to top it off, Smith has developed a reputation of having 2nd gear, breakaway speed, once the ball is in the air, where he has a gifted ability to separate himself from opposing secondaries. On this Rice TD against the Bengals, watch how, before the ball is snapped, Smith sprints towards Flacco from the outside for what looks like an “end around play”. (Where Flacco hands off to Smith, and Smith attempts to slice around the left/outside for a big gain.) As this “pre-play” developed, the Bengal’s safety Reggie Nelson (#20), who was covering the right side of the field, bit towards Torrey Smith, where the D sensed a play to the left. Flacco then hiked the ball, and fed it to Rice, who ran to the right, busted through the line of scrimmage, and sprinted for a 70 yard TD run! Torrey Smith finished the game with 5 receptions for 33 yards…nothing dramatic in the stats book. But the 70 yard Ray Rice TD was initiated by Smith’s fake “end around play”. If the safety didn’t bite, that might have been a 10 yard gain, and who knows what would have happened after that?
Video: Ray Rice’s 70 Yard Touchdown Against the Bengals! (At ~31 seconds, great angle showing how the play developed. Look at the top of the screen for #20 on the Bengals.)
2. 11/24/11: Ravens 16 SF 6: Torrey Smith’s Draws a 50 Yard Defensive Pass Interference Penalty Towards the End of the 1st Half: Smith finished this game with 2 catches for 23 yards….hardly anything to remember, other than the big W for the team! BUT perhaps the biggest, game changing play of the 1st half occurred where Smith didn’t have a stat to show for it. The 49’ers at this point in the season were on an 8 game winning streak. Their defense finished the season with the lowest points allowed, and lowest rush defense in the NFL. The Ravens and San Fran were all knotted up in a stingy 3-3 tie with 6 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. With 1st and 10 on the Raven’s own 35, Flacco threw a 50 yard bomb to the speedy Smith, where the Ref’s called SF for defensive pass interference. This led to a 1st and 10 at the SF 15, where the Ravens then scored on a short field goal, giving the Ravens a 6-3 halftime lead. Points weren’t easy to come by in this game. While Pitta scored the only TD of the game early in the 4th quarter on an 8 yard pass from Flacco, Smith’s 50 yard defensive pass interference penalty gave the Ravens momentum and a halftime lead, to beat this top ranked D. Once again, no stat for the 50 yard pass interference play, but a big time game changer indeed!
3. 12/24/2011 Ravens 20 Browns 14: Torrey Smith Draws a 60 Yard Defensive Pass Interference Penalty on the Raven’s 1st Offensive Play of the Game: In this game, Smith totaled 2 catches for 38 yards…once again nothing impressive for the stats sheet. While the Browns didn’t have a great year by any standards, they played most teams tough and close in the 2nd half of the season. Perhaps the biggest play of the game occurred on the first offensive snap for the Ravens. With a 1st and 10 on their own 36, Flacco went DEEEEP for 60 yards to Torrey Smith, where the Browns were called for defensive pass interference. This set up a 5 yard touchdown from Flacco to Dickson, and put the Ravens ahead early.
I think there should be a stat for WR’s and TEs, where they show pass interference calls that were set up by the player. Smith’s speed caused 2 major penalties, one for 60 yards, and another for 50 yards, where they were tone setting/game changing factors in the Raven’s victories. GO RAVENS!!!!
*photos courtesy of the Washington Post
*videos courtesy of NFL.com