"It was an ugly one," Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said of the loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday. (Baltimore Sun video)
Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. didn't want to hear any excuses.
No, Denver Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby didn't tip the ball. No, Smith didn't think that it was a particularly difficult catch to make.
"I just have to make that play and that really falls on me," Smith said after the Ravens' 19-13 loss to the Broncos at Sports Authority Field. "No. 1 receiver, you have to make No. 1 plays and I didn't."
The play before quarterback Joe Flacco's pass intended for tight end Crockett Gillmore was intercepted in the end zone by former Ravens' teammate Darian Stewart, ending the Ravens' comeback hopes, Smith had the ball hit his hands for the potential game-tying 6 points and he couldn't hold on.
Flacco's floating pass just got over the outstretched arm of Roby, but Smith was unable to haul it in. Flacco felt that his arm was hit as he threw the ball, preventing him from getting the touch on it that he needed. However, Smith put the play and the loss on his own shoulders.
"For me, I make that play in the corner of the end zone and we're talking about something totally different," he said. "It didn't get tipped. I just didn't catch it. I'm a No. 1 receiver and that's a No. 1 play. I got to make that. Ultimately, just the way I feel, that's on me. That falls on my hands. I have to be better."
For Smith, it was a difficult beginning to his 15th and final NFL season. He caught two passes for 13 total yards on the Ravens' first drive, but he didn't make a catch for the rest of the game as Broncos corners Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. - and an unrelenting Denver pass rush - completely erased the Ravens' down-field passing game.
Smith was also the intended receiver on the game's decisive play: Talib's 51-yard interception return for a score that gave the Broncos a lead late in the third quarter that they'd never relinquish.
"It was an 8-yard route," Smith said. "He undercut it and played it inside and he made a good play."
Flacco said that he liked Smith in the one-on-one matchup, but the play was "just one of those ones that didn't work out."
Both Talib and Harris said they saw Smith run that route in film study and knew the Ravens would go to it in the game.