There was only one brief moment when it appeared that Torrey Smith's decision to play might backfire.
After catching a 43-yard pass from quarterback Joe Flacco and getting his helmet yanked back by New York Giants cornerback Corey Webster more than midway through the first quarter, the wide receiver — who suffered a concussion in the Ravens' game against the Denver Broncos last week — looked woozy and unsteady on his feet.
But the alarm was fleeting, and Smith said he never considered leaving the contest and standing on the sideline for an extended period of time.
"I'm all right," he said. "I was concussed last week. I'm all right."
The Ravens should be thankful for Smith's high threshold. The second-year wideout caught five balls for 88 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown that gave the team its first score en route to 33-14 victory at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.
Smith sustained his concussion on the offense's opening possession of the second half in last Sunday's 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos and was a health concern all week. He did not practice Wednesday and was limited Thursday and Friday, earning a questionable designation for the game against the Giants.
But Smith played, serving as an inspiration to some of his teammates.
"He's a special talent," tight end Ed Dickson said before noting that rookie running back Bernard Pierce had also sustained a concussion in the game against Denver. "Those guys played big for us today. That's how you bounce back from those things. Injuries are a part of our game, and it's fortunate that those guys were out there."
Smith's production was a welcome sight. His last noteworthy showing had been a seven-reception, 144-yard effort in the Ravens' 16-13 overtime win against the San Diego Chargers on Nov. 25. Since then, he had grabbed a combined five passes for 68 yards and zero touchdowns in three games prior to Sunday.
Smith — who was targeted 14 times in those three contests, which put him third behind wide receiver Anquan Boldin (21 targets) and tight end Dennis Pitta (19) over the same span — said he and Flacco made a concerted effort to execute more often.
"We missed a lot. That part, we kind of fixed tonight," he said. "We made some plays, and we just need to continue to build on it. It's a two-way street. But at the end of the day, it's on us, myself and Joe, in terms of our chemistry and getting things right. There's no problem in terms of chemistry, but we just need to be consistent."
Added Flacco: "He's a good receiver, and he's going to get his plays, and the same thing with Anquan. He's very good about it if he doesn't. But we're trying to do everything we can to get those guys the ball on a regular basis. He did a great job making some plays down the field and moving those chains for us."
Smith did most of his damage against Webster. On the 43-yard catch, Smith boxed out Webster for the ball. In the second quarter, Smith leaped over Webster to make a spectacular one-handed grab for a 21-yard gain.
And even when Smith wasn't able to catch the ball, he still influenced Webster to grab him and get flagged for pass interference, which was good enough for a 17-yard gain and a first down in the third quarter.
Smith said the Giants were content in the first half to defend the Ravens' aerial plan with single coverage.
"For a while, and then they changed that real quick," he said with a smile. "We made plays. Joe made some great throws, and the offensive line protected."
Smith, who now leads the offense in touchdown catches with eight and ranks second in receiving yards with 855, said he isn't hoping that Sunday's performance is a harbinger of the future. In fact, he said, he expects that kind of production.
"That's my job," he said. "When the ball comes your way, make a play. It doesn't really change. That's everyone's job. I don't look at it any differently, like Joe needs to throw me the ball or Joe needs to do this or do that. No, I play my role within the offense, and my role is no different than the next man's or Anquan's or Jacoby [Jones']. My job is to just make the play when the ball's thrown my way."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun