Torrey Smith pointed skyward after his first touchdown reception Sunday night. He knelt in prayer in the end zone after scoring a second time.
The Baltimore Ravens receiver played a significant role in his team’s 31-30 victory over the New England Patriots. And being out there on the field with his teammates was significant for Smith, whose younger brother, Tevin Jones, died in a motorcycle accident less than 24 hours earlier.
“My teammates, they keep you focused,” said Smith, who caught six passes for 127 yards in the rematch of last year’s AFC championship game. “I didn’t want to be out there, just running around, doing nothing. If I was going to be out there, I was going to give it my all. You’re on the lines, you just want to make the play.
“Afterwards is when you can sit back and reflect on things. My teammates, I love them to death, and they helped me get through this.”
Smith was very close with the 19-year-old Jones and all six of his younger siblings, whom he helped his mother, Monica Jenkins, raise through such difficult circumstances as the absence of Smith’s biological father, his mother being the victim of domestic abuse and her six-month absence while serving a sentence resulting from an altercation with a relative.
The Ravens let Smith decide whether he’d play in Sunday night’s game. He made his decision just hours before the game, which started after a moment of silence for Jones.
“Torrey is a great, great young man,” Coach John Harbaugh said. “We dedicate that victory to Tevin and to the whole family. When Torrey said he wanted to play, then the decision was finished. Obviously, he’s a pretty special guy.”
Smith said after the game:
“It was tough emotionally. I didn’t know how I would hold up. I was telling my teammates a minute ago that this is new territory for me personally. I never really had to deal with a death in the family, let alone my brother. It’s part of life and, due to my teammates and my family and friends, I’ll be able to get over it.
“Obviously, you play with a heavy heart. You want to play for that person. My mom, all my family, they didn’t even know I was going to play until the last minute. She was like, ‘Of course, he’d want you to play.’ He admired me so much, and it’s just a tough situation altogether.”
Read more about Jones’ death and Smith’s brave performance in a moving article by the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson.