After looking for other options on their 6th series, the Ravens got the ball for a 7th time in the game still ahead 14-7. In a critical 3rd and 10 situation on the drive’s 6th play, Flacco found Smith for a 28 yard 1st down reception on a play that might have been a TD if not for Adam “Pac-Man” Jones finding a handful of Smith’s dreadlocks and bringing him down. The Ravens looked to Smith on the next play, a failed deep shot and the only Flacco target of Smith that would hit the ground on the day, before throwing an interception in the direction of Ed Dickson on the first play Smith was off of the field in that series.
The Ravens first series of the second half saw Flacco look to Smith on another critical 3rd down play for a 15-yard reception to keep the chains moving. On the next play, Ray Rice went for 59 yards up the middle, on a play where the Ravens faked the end around to Smith behind Rice’s handoff. The whole right side of the defense appeared to stay home (having seen the Ravens run 2 end arounds for 16 yards each against Seattle one week earlier) and the middle of the defense appeared to lean slightly right too. That created just enough space to spring the explosive Rice for his biggest run of the day. The Ravens tried a similar play at the goal line too, but this time the Bengals were ready. The Ravens settled for a field goal and a 17-7 lead.
After the Bengals answered the Ravens field goal with a TD to make the score 17-14 Ravens, they went 3 and out on a possession that didn’t involve Smith at all, and then came back for their 10th offensive series of the game (not counting the 1st half kneel down by Flacco) and here is where Smith’s impact went momentarily south. A crack back block by Smith negated a 26-yard run by Ray Rice and put the offense in a hole, one that they compounded with more penalties. On 3rd and 30, Flacco did find Smith for 22-yards, but not enough to move the chains.
The 11th offensive series for the Ravens came on the 2-yard line after a Jimmy Smith interception and subsequent fumble recovered by Brendon Ayanbadejo. The drive was 1 play, 2-yards for Rice and a 24-14 lead for the Ravens.
And the 12th offensive series by the Ravens, the end of their scoring day, was a 1-play, 38-yard strike to Smith in the back of the end-zone for a 31-21 lead and a perfect capper to an already outstanding day for the rookie.
He won’t get the accolades of a Cam Newton or Andy Dalton, but this is one heck of a rookie wide receiver folks…and he seems to get better each week.