Every Tuesday, blogger Matt Vensel breaks down a critical play, sometimes with input from Ravens players, from that week's game. Today, he looks at Torrey Smith's 52-yard reception in the 44-13 victory over the Bengals.
When the Ravens walked out on the field Monday night for their first play from scrimmage, the players had no idea which play offensive coordinator Cam Cameron would radio into quarterback Joe Flacco's helmet.
Maybe Cameron wanted his offense to make an early statement or maybe he saw an opportunity to seize on the energy inside M&T Bank Stadium, with 70,000 fans worked into a fervor after eight months without football. But their first offensive play called for Flacco to execute a play-fake then throw deep to speedy wide-out Torrey Smith.
"I had no clue [what the play would be]," Smith said. "I just came out and he called the play. I said 'OK, I better get on my horse.' I saw the coverage, and I knew we had a shot at it, and we completed it."
But Flacco had to get the throw off first.
As Flacco dropped back while quickly faking a handoff to Ray Rice and planted his right foot 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, a four-man rush quickly generated pressure. Left tackle Michael Oher gave ground to defensive end Michael Johnson, but steered him deep enough in the backfield to keep Flacco's pocket intact. Meanwhile, Robert Geathers bowled over tight end Dennis Pitta and bore down on Flacco, hitting him after his throw.
At the snap at the ball, Smith streaked down the numbers on the left side of the field and got inside position on Bengals cornerback Leon Hall, who was left on an island with Smith by strong safety Taylor Mays. (I'm not sure if Mays bit on the play-fake or was trying to jump a potential throw to slot receiver Anquan Boldin.) The strong throw by Flacco led Smith into open space, and the second-year receiver made a lunging 52-yard grab.
The Ravens would settle for a field goal on the drive, but Pitta said "it set the tone for us offensively," and after that, the Ravens "were in attack mode all night and we were able to put up a lot of points." Flacco threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 10.3 yards per attempt in the 31-point win over the Bengals.
"It was a great throw and catch," Pitta said.
After he said that, Flacco, who was getting dressed at his nearby locker stall, said, "He wouldn't know because he fell down on the play," playfully referencing Pitta's missed block on Geathers that nearly sabotaged the play-action pass.
"From what I heard it was a great throw and catch," Pitta said, correcting himself while smirking slightly.