The Ravens’ marquee free agent signing bounced back from a pair of quiet preseason games with the kind of impact performance he felt like he needed to have Saturday against Washington.
Wide receiver Steve Smith made six catches for 80 yards and a highlight reel touchdown late in the first half, when he hauled in a 24-yard pass from quarterback Joe Flacco while sliding through the end zone.
“You come here in free agency and everybody has a question,” Smith said after the game. “‘Will he be able to play? What kind of plays can he make?’ … That kind of just shows that I can still play and what kind of play that I’m going to have.
“That’s what I want to do, show what I bring to the table,” Smith said.
Smith, who was a frequent target of Flacco’s during training camp, had been quiet during the first two games of the preseason. Smith made one catch for nine yards in the starters’ only drive against San Francisco, and made one catch for eight yards in Dallas.
“Last week, I really didn’t play well,” Smith said. “I didn’t line up well, and my assignments were off. Today was a great opportunity to show that I can be an asset, instead of the liability I was last week.”
Part of that, Smith said, was his comfort level with Flacco. Smith said his job is to make Flacco’s job easier.
“I am the one who has to raise my level of play and get on the same page with him,” Smith said. “He is doing a great job, and he is being very patient with me. I need to continue to do a better job, and today was a great opportunity to do that.”
Smith also impressed on a 30-yard completion in the second half, when Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall had him wrapped up on the sideline short of the first down marker on second and 15, but Smith broke the tackle and turned the play into the longest either team had from scrimmage.
“I think because of my age, you know, people kind of second-guess [my running ability],” Smith said.
“I think he saw a little bit of everything tonight,” Flacco said. “He runs with the ball well. He’s strong, he’s powerful, he’s quick, and he’s fast, so he can break tackles. He’s going to help us out a lot. We’re getting on the same page. Every day, we’re getting better and better.”