Players from both teams surrounded Steve Smith Sr. and knelt in prayer when he went down with a season-ending Achilles injury.
As Steve Smith Sr. dropped to the turf and pounded the ground while in significant pain, members of both teams surrounded him and knelt in prayer.
Smith tearing his right Achilles tendon – an injury that ends his 2015 season and potentially his 15-year career – shook up players and coaches from both the Ravens and San Diego Chargers.
"He's hurting," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh following his team's 29-26 victory. "I have a feeling Steve Smith will be back. I love him, respect him, admire him. I told him that. That's the kind of man he is, and he'll be back."
Chargers coach Mike McCoy, who was Smith's position coach for a time with the Carolina Panthers, wasn't aware of the severity of the wide receiver's injury but wished the Raven well, calling him a "special person."
San Diego Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers also expressed his support for Smith.
"It was hard to see because I respect Steve so much," Flowers said. What he means to this league and the fire he plays with, you don't want to see a guy like that go down for the season at all. That's tough. That's why the whole defense huddled around him, because we have so much respect for what he's put into the game."
For the Ravens, Smith is the second accomplished veteran to go down with a torn Achilles this year. Terrell Suggs suffered a similar injury during the team's season-opening loss to the Denver Broncos.
Some of the Ravens weren't aware of the severity of Smith's injury until long after the game. When Harbaugh made the announcement to reporters during his postgame news conference, cornerback Jimmy Smith, who was also in the room, audibly groaned and bent over at the waist.
"It's very disheartening to be honest with you," Jimmy Smith said. "He's a big-time leader on our team – just the way he competes and plays. His presence alone is huge for us. To see him go down, one of our top warriors, is a big deal, but we haven't caught any breaks all year. This is another one, so we have got to rally. The guys that are in have got to make plays."
Kamar Aiken and Chris Givens stepped up and made some plays on the Ravens' final drive, which ended with Justin Tucker kicking a game-winning 39-yard field goal as time expired. With Smith down, the Ravens are going to need more from them, and also they'll need positive production from Jeremy Ross (three catches for 21 yards) and Marlon Brown (zero catches).
Asked about Smith's injury, Brown said, "It's just really heartbreaking."
Now, the attention turns to whether Smith will return for another season or whether he'll retire, as was his initial plan when the season began. Several Ravens, including Lardarius Webb, believe that Smith will return, not wanting his career to end on a significant injury.
Harbaugh seemingly predicted that he'll be back during his opening statement, but he backed off that somewhat later in the news conference.
"I can't make any announcements for Steve," Harbaugh said. "I guess I'm commenting more on who he is, what he's all about. When he first came here, a year and a half ago, he and I had a conversation at my house. He had brought this up, but it was my thought. I said to him that, 'You're going to write the final chapters of your career in a way that nobody expects. Nobody's going to write these final chapters for you.' So, I'm just looking forward to seeing how this story ends."