Steve Smith promised "blood and guts." He came to M&T Bank Stadium with a hat that read, "I [heart] haters."
After three-and-a-half hours of football, Smith came away satisfied.
The Ravens, led by Smith's seven-catch, 139-yard, two touchdown performance, destroyed the Carolina Panthers 38-10 in a game that really wasn't much of a contest from the onset. The Ravens defense forced Carolina into a one-dimensional bunch by stuffing their already non-existent running game, and the Panthers were unable to gain any consistency.
Baltimore, on the other hand, was explosive on offense early on. However, the Ravens did receive a little luck to spark them.
In the first quarter on their second drive, quarterback Joe Flacco went back to pass and looked for tight end Owen Daniels on a corner route. The ball was just out of Daniels' reach, with the veteran tight end reaching his arm out to try and reel it in.
Smith had run an out route, which was covered. The wily receiver broke the route and turned it up the field near Daniels and just so happened to be in the right place at the right time. And the way the play turned out, it almost seem scripted.
The ball tipped off of Daniels' fingers and into Smith's hands in stride. The 35-year-old receiver that the Panthers decided wasn't good enough anymore took the ball to the house for 61 yards. Though the Panthers tied the game up with a Kelvin Benjamin touchdown on the ensuing drive, the Ravens wouldn't look back. Up 14-7, Smith hauled in his second touchdown near the end of the half.
On third-and-11, Flacco tossed the ball up to Smith in the end zone, with Melvin White grabbing the veteran before the ball arrived. Smith was still able to make the catch to give Baltimore a 21-7 halftime lead.
Flacco finished the day with a stellar 327 yards and three touchdowns on 22-of-31 passing. Torrey Smith only caught two passes but they went for 53 yards and two touchdowns. Forsett had 14 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown with Lorenzo Taliaferro totaling 58 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
Baltimore's defense did a great job shutting down what the Panthers wanted to do offensively. Of course, without a running game, there's no balance to offer. The Ravens took away DeAngelo Williams before he injured his ankle. The Panthers were without Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Fozzy Whittaker and Mike Tolbert in the backfield.
Though the Panthers did throw for 248 yards, with most of it coming when they were trailing, they could only muster 67 rushing yards. The Ravens entered this week ranked eighth in rushing defense and should move up in that category after Sunday's performance.
At 3-1 through the first quarter of the season, and with blowout victories against Pittsburgh and Carolina, the Ravens are easily in the conversation as being among the top five-to-eight teams in the NFL at the moment. And thing is, this group is playing like they're only going to get better. The offense has been efficient over the past three weeks and the defense, despite some issues in the secondary, has looked like its old self.
This type of game will certainly raise the Ravens' confidence level as they head into Indianapolis next week.