The acquisition of veteran wide receiver Steve Smith has been paying off for the Baltimore Ravens. Smith hauled in a 32-yard pass to set up the game-winning field goal against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 21.
Steve Smith is delivering the goods for the Baltimore Ravens.
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The veteran wide receiver, signed in the offseason after 13 seasons with the Carolina Panthers, hauled in a 32-yard pass to set up the game-winning field goal against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 21, per Ryan Mink of the Ravens' official website:
"The Ravens were at Cleveland's 45-yard line with less than 90 seconds remaining, trailing by a point. They needed one more big play to set up the game-winning field goal.
"That's when (Ravens quarterback Joe) Flacco threw a dart down the right sideline, hitting Smith for a 32-yard gain that essentially won the game. The catch put the Ravens comfortably in field-goal range for Justin Tucker's 32-yard boot as time expired on Baltimore's 23-21 victory.
"'It was for moments like that we brought Steve Smith in here,' head coach John Harbaugh said.
"'We had plays in critical situations. I'll start with Steve Smith, who is sitting right over here, and Joe Flacco. For those two guys to make make the plays they did in this game in critical situations to give us a chance to win the game, that's what great players do. That's what a great player, No. 89, and a great player, No. 5, did.'
"Smith finished the game with a team-high five receptions for 101 yards. He is averaging 97 yards receiving and six catches per game through his first three contests as a Raven.
"Sunday's catch against the Browns is his biggest yet in purple and black.
"'I think it was as good as it gets thus far,' he said. 'It's been a short ride thus far, but it's been awesome.'
"Before the Ravens' last drive, Smith said Ravens coaches came up to him and fellow wideout Torrey Smith and told them somebody was going to have to make a play in order to win.
"'I said, 'That's what we're here for is to make plays,' Smith said. 'When John brought me here, he brought me here to make plays and help. That's what I'm going to do -- make plays.
"'It doesn't matter who I'm playing. It doesn't matter what division, what conference. When I accept that jersey, I'm expected to make plays. That's what I expect from myself and that's what I'll do every day.'
"As they broke the huddle, Flacco called out to Smith to run a slant-and-go route. Flacco also said he communicated with Torrey Smith on the play, but ended up going to the elder Smith.
"'I know I communicated well with Steve,' Flacco said. 'If I got one high and I got a shot on whoever it was out there, I was taking it. It didn't matter. I wanted to take a shot there and it worked out well.'
"Smith, Sr., of course, wanted the ball.
"'When I line up, I think there's no better option than myself,' he said.
"He didn't take all the credit himself, however. Smith gave kudos to Flacco for staying cool under pressure.
"The Ravens offense had a chance to re-take the lead the drive before as well, but ended up having to punt. Flacco didn't have one of his best days, but ended up leading the game-winning drive.
"'For a long time, the way I grew up, I've always worked well in chaos,' Smith said. 'As I've gotten older, I prefer calm. It's been refreshing to come in here, and the quarterback, the huddle, is calm. That makes it so much easier to concentrate and do your job.'"
ESPN Baltimore Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley labels Smith as "the Ravens' No. 1 target":
"It's this type of clutch play that the Ravens missed when they traded Anquin Boldin and what they envisioned when they signed Smith to a three-year, $10.5 million deal this offseason.
"'It was for moments like that that we brought Steve Smith in here, and for everything else that he brings,' Harbaugh said. 'I have been a big admirer of Steve for many years.'
"Smith has been more than a clutch receiver. He's clearly been the Ravens' No. 1 target.
"Smith's 18 catches represent a quarter of Joe Flacco's completions, and his 290 yards account for 40 percent of Flacco's passing yards. When throwing to Smith, Flacco has averaged 9.1 yards per attempt and the drop rate has been 3 percent. When targeting everyone else, Flacco has averaged 4.9 yards per attempt and the drop rate has been 6 percent.
"Much of the attention this week will focus on Smith because of his anticipated reunion with the Carolina Panthers, who cut him on March 13 after 13 seasons together. It sounded like Smith is already looking forward to the matchup with his former team.
"'Not bad for a washed-up, old man,' Smith told the NFL Network immediately after making five catches for 101 yards Sunday."
The 35-year-old Smith has caught for 12,487 yards and 68 touchdowns on 854 receptions in 185 career regular-season games through Sept. 22, per ESPN stats.
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