National stories with a local twist is the recipe here, but you can’t ignore a local story with a national twist, not when it involves the best – perhaps only – playmaker at Joe Flacco’s disposal.
It’s possible that the final image of wide receiver Steve Smith on a football field will be Smith being helped off the field with a towel draped over his helmet and face. Leave it for others to debate what his right Achilles’ injury does to the Ravens’ almost non-existent playoff chances.
The question here is how the 36-year-old receiver should be remembered if this was his final game? The answer: One of the best of his generation, one of the most prolific, one of the toughest and, frankly, one of the most underrated.
On Sunday, he passed Cris Carter for 10th all-time on the yards receiving list with 13,932. He’s one solid game from jumping over James Lofton for ninth all-time and one excellent half-season from slipping past Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison for seventh.
It would be a shame if Smith’s career is definitely over while he is still productive, but finishing Top 10 in nearly anything in the NFL is impressive.