When the Baltimore Ravens drafted the speedy wide receiver Torrey Smith out of the University of Maryland in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft they thought they were getting a potential game-breaker. But a shaky preseason resulted in the Ravens trading for seven-year veteran Lee Evans to fill that role.
Smith certainly didn't disabuse his coaches and teammates about the notion that he wasn't quite ready for prime time by recording zero catches in the first two games of the season. But Baltimore turned to the rookie for a spark with Evans inactive for Week 3 against the St. Louis Rams.
Let's just say, he exceeded expectations. For starters, Smith caught three passes. But those three receptions went for 133 yards in the first quarter alone. Oh, and all of them were touchdowns.
With 12:20 left in the first quarter, Joe Flacco found Smith dashing down the sideline and hit him with a 74-yard touchdown pass. With 3:38 left, Flacco looked to Smith again, who easily ran behind the Rams' secondary for a 41-yard touchdown catch. Less than two minutes later, Smith made a far more difficult catch by leaping over Rams cornerback Justin King and coming down with the ball in the end zone for this third score.
With Smith's help, the Ravens set two franchise records: One for most offensive yards in the first half with 406 and another for most offensive yards in a game with 533.
Flacco and star linebacker Ray Lewis told reporters after the game about how impressed they were with Smith's performance.
"He's an explosive player," Flacco said. "He came up big today. We really know he can make those plays now. He's explosive and when he gets up and going you can lay the ball out for him."
Lewis said that he told Smith before the game to go back to playing school-yard football.
"If you were the fastest on the field, then make everybody catch you," he said. "Everybody knew he could flat out run. The scariest thing to do with that type of talent is give him confidence."
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