November 20, 2011
3. Torrey Smith gives the Ravens offense a dynamic it hasn't had in a long time. Maybe ever.
There is no doubt that Smith is still very raw when it comes to playing wide receiver in the NFL. He may never have "great" hands, and his route running could still use plenty of polish. But mercy, is it exciting to see him accelerate, either before the catch or after. Speed -- especially when it's possessed by someone as big as Smith -- is breath-taking in its sheer beauty, isn't it?
I'm sure the play in the second quarter where Smith was dragged down by his dreadlocks will be featured in virtually every highlight package this week. That's what happens when something that's both rare and humorous occurs in the NFL. But more than the hair tackle, what I'll remember from that play is the acceleration Smith showed running through traffic after he made the catch. If Bengals corner Adam Jones hadn't snatched Smith's dreads and held on for dear life, I'm pretty sure Smith would have left a sea of orange and white jerseys in the dust.
I can't remember seeing that kind of explosive play from a Ravens wide receiver. It's one thing to get behind a defender with a double move, or a blown coverage. Even Derrick Mason did that occasionally. It's something entirely different to find a turbo boost in the middle of traffic and nearly score. That's video game speed.
Every week, Flacco seems more and more inclined to take some shots down the field with Smith, something he couldn't do his first three years in the NFL. The Ravens admitted he was pretty pumped up when Cameron called for a play-action fake, followed by a deep ball to Smith the first play after Webb's interception.
"We were talking about it on the sideline, if we had a chance, to call that play," Flacco said. "We had run a little to the left, and when we did, the safety came down. They overdid it a little bit and we were able to take advantage."
Flacco launched the ball, and for a second, it looked like it might be a dreaded overthrow. But the last few seconds, Smith looked like he was wearing a jet pack. And you could hear the crowd start to roar before the ball even nestled in his hands.