The Ravens are not the type of team to acknowledge that the loss of one player can impact what they do on offense, defense or special teams.
The Ravens stuck to that perspective after a game in which wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. left in Sunday's first quarter and did not return.
Entering the game, Smith had led the offense in catches (24) and yards (281). He caught three passes for 29 yards before injuring his ankle with less than three minutes left in the opening period of Sunday's 16-10 loss to the Redskins.
Coach John Harbaugh declined to consider whether Smith’s absence had an effect on the team.
“I didn’t really have a gauge or a meter on that,” he said.
The loss of Smith seemed palpable. Without Smith, quarterback Joe Flacco threw for a season-low 210 yards. Although wide receiver Mike Wallace led the offense in targets with 11 and yards with 63, tight ends Dennis Pitta and Crockett Gillmore and fullback Kyle Juszczyk had more targets, receptions and yards than Breshad Perriman, the next highest wide receiver with five targets, two catches, and 11 yards.
If Harbaugh was not willing to admit that the team greatly missed Smith, Washington strong safety Duke Ihenacho was.
“It was easier,” he said. “Obviously, everybody knows what kind of player he is – a Hall of Fame player, veteran guy, fiery guy, emotional guy. I feel like, when he went out, part of their emotion went out with him. I think it definitely had something to do with it.”
Smith refused to talk to reporters after the loss. Wallace followed his coach’s cue and said the Ravens did not have to change much when Smith left the game.
“When you lose a player like that, it is obviously going to take something away from you, but I don’t think anybody was down,” Wallace said. “You just have to finish the game. Breshad made a great play. He just didn’t come down with it. It was just one of those unfortunate days. We have been on the good side, and we have been on the bad side of it. We just have to keep grinding, and I think we will be OK.”