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Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith stops Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) after a pass reception.
Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith stops Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) after a pass reception. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

It took cornerback Jimmy Smith only one game to remind everyone how much he was missed last season, and to make everyone feel a little better about the Ravens' much-maligned secondary.

In the Ravens' 19-13 loss to the Denver Broncos, Smith led the team with eight tackles, was instrumental in holding star receiver Demaryius Thomas to seven catches for 60 yards and provided his team's only touchdown of the day.

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With the Ravens trailing by six early in the third quarter and facing a third-and-10 from the Broncos' 20, Smith read Peyton Manning's pass attempt underneath to Jordan Norwood. So, Smith left Thomas and jumped the route, arriving at about the same time as the ball. He reached over Norwood's back and tipped the ball to himself.

The 24-yard interception return for the touchdown was the first of Smith's career, and it gave the Ravens a 10-9 lead.

"It was a simple out break and route," Smith said. "He kind of floated it up, so I thought I could probably jump over and see if I could get it. That's kind of what I did and tipped it to myself."

Smith spent much of the game shadowing Thomas, who didn't have a catch of more than 11 yards. But the Ravens cornerback was also quick to come up in run support and made a couple of tackles close to the line of scrimmage. If there was any doubt that Smith was back from a Lisfranc sprain that ended his 2014 season after eight games and required surgery, the 27-year-old erased it.

His play keyed a pretty strong debut for the Ravens' secondary, which held Manning to 175 passing yards and a 59.9 quarterback rating.

"I thought we had a great plan coming into the game," Ravens cornerback Kyle Arrington said. "[Defensive coordinator Dean Pees] put us in great position to be successful."

End zone

Michael Campanaro was the team's primary kick returner but did not field a returnable kick. Steve Smith Sr. was the somewhat surprising choice as a punt returner and he returned two for 32 total yards. … Broncos kicker Brandon McManus hit 56- and 57-yard field goals in the first quarter, becoming just the second player in NFL history with at least two field goals of 56 yards or longer in one game. … Line judge Gary Arthur was carted off the field late in the first quarter after he was run over on a punt play. He was diagnosed with a broken collarbone and did not return. … With the temperature 88 degrees at kickoff, the game was the sixth-warmest at home in Broncos history.

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