Joe Flacco has 12 passes of 35 yards or more this season. Three of those 12 came in week 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals in Baltimore. Flacco has always had a big arm. Unfortunately he has not had a legitimate deep threat for his entire career. Until this season. In 2011 the Ravens drafted deep threat, wide receiver Torrey Smith out of Maryland.
Baltimore won that game. They held off a surging Bengals team that found some late rhythm against the vaunted Ravens defense. The reason they were up in the first place however, is because of Torrey Smith. Cincinnati is focused on stopping the big play this week. They feel that with out those few big plays, things shake out a bit differently that Sunday in Charm City.
If the Bengals are going to shut down anything deep, they will have to stop Torrey Smith. The rookie had a season best six catches for 166 yards against the Bengals, including a 49-yard catch in single coverage against Nate Clements and a 38-yard touchdown where he split safeties Crocker and Reggie Nelson.
"That was the key to the ball game and why we didn't win. We gave up too many explosive plays," safety Chris Crocker said. "We're so focused and aware of what deep plays they are going to do. We're going to try and check them down."
On the season Smith has logged 45 catches for 808 yards and seven touchdowns. The impressive first year pro is averaging 18 yards per catch and has been successful running a variety of routes. Route running was something most NFL draft analysts doubted about the young speedster. He was labeled as "unpolished" and "a project". Luckily Ozzie Newsome saw something in him and that's all that matters here in Baltimore.
When the season started Smith was slated as the third receiver on the depth chart behind Anquan Boldin and Lee Evans. Some even questioned if Smith had earned the third slot after a few early preseason drops. Fans all around Baltimore were calling for Tandon Doss (Flaccos hand picked golden crime fighter) or LaQuan Williams (special teams ace at Maryland with Smith). Not taking anything away from those players, they have potential. But they do not have what Torrey has. Lee Evans was sidelined early due to injury forcing the young Smith to the number two slot. Smith responded by exploding for 152 yards and three touchdowns week three in St. Louis.
Said Crocker of Smith: "He is very explosive and can stretch the field. We'll be ready this week. This game has the biggest implications of my career, knowing if we win we can make the playoffs."
Now, number one receiver Anquan Boldin is injured and Smith finds himself as the number one, go to guy in the biggest game of the season, on the road, against a division rival, for the number one or two over all seed in the AFC... And a first round bye! It's cool bro, no pressure.
This is his time. If there is one thing about Torrey Smith that I've learned in my brief time watching him it's that when he is on he is on. Torrey can take over a game and leave the defense eating his dust. This can change the entire game for Baltimore. If Smith is able to get behind the Bengals safeties early it will set the tone for the entire game. The absence of Boldin won't even matter any more because Cincinnati will have to respect the big play ability of Smith. The intermediate crossing routes will open up for Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta and heck, maybe even Lee Evans will get involved.
This is what we want to see Cam! give them a heavy dose of Ray Rice then send 'em running after Torrey! All the way to the end-zone. That's how it's supposed to happen right Baltimore?