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Baltimore Ravens

Steve Smith Sr. battles stomach issue, dehydration for second straight standout game

After last season, coach John Harbaugh said wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. might be subject to a limited role to keep him fresh until later in the season. But in his final NFL campaign, with no other real options, the veteran has become the focal point of the Ravens offense through three games.

For the first time in his career, Smith had back-to-back games with double-digit receptions. Last week against the Oakland Raiders, Smith caught 10 passes on 16 targets for 150 yards. He bested that Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals with 13 catches, 186 yards, and two touchdowns.

He was blunt when asked if he's every played this well before — "Yes" — but the loss seemed to weigh on him more than his second consecutive big game lifted him.

"Losing is not frustrating — losing pisses me off," Smith said. "I don't like losing."

Just like a week ago, Smith did most of his damage when quarterback Joe Flacco seemed to only be able to see him in the second half.

He caught two passes on the opening drive of the third quarter, then on a season-defining fourth-down attempt from midfield, Smith broke one tackle to make the yards-to-gain, then ran through two more tackle attempts for a 50-yard touchdown.

After that play, Smith's admittedly sensitive stomach began to bother him — he was hunched over a trash barrel as the Ravens began their next drive, and needed intravenous fluids after the next drive to keep hydrated.

"When you're old like this, that's the first thing to go is your stomach," Smith said. "As [running back Justin] Forsett says, I have an old grandpa stomach."

But Smith had enough in the tank to catch four more passes for 48 yards and a second touchdown in the fourth quarter.

"Steve had a lot of opportunities to make plays, and he has done that throughout his career," Flacco said. "He's proven that he can make those plays."

jmeoli@baltsun.com

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