"Courageous" is the first word you should attach to Smith's performance. He told the Associated Press (via ESPN) after the game: "It was tough. I didn't know until 4 o'clock if I was going to play. I only had like an hour of sleep. Emotionally, I didn't know how I was going to hold up."
Smith drew strength from somewhere, snagging the team's first score of the game:
And the team's final touchdown:
Smith was all over the field, using his blinding speed to break open the Patriots secondary. His inspirational play makes Baltimore's win all the more meaningful.
New England isn't just some team. The Ravens needed to win this game to avoid their second straight loss, and the Patriots are the AFC's gold standard overall. If you can beat them, you've passed the test.
The Ravens used Smith's big performance—and Joe Flacco's bigger performance—to pick up one of their season's biggest wins. Flacco can hang his hat on his 382-yard, three-touchdown performance, using it for confidence throughout the season.
Both teams played well Sunday evening, but the Ravens needed this game. Last year's AFC Championship debacle was avenged, and the Ravens took a giant step forward on national television.
Smith found the courage to play, and his team rallied around him. He needed this game, and they needed it as well. Together, they accomplished that goal.
Smith has already established himself as one of the game's most dangerous deep threats, but Sunday night is a different story entirely. He showed unparalleled character in an incredibly difficult time in his life. Not everyone is capable of that, and that's the most special part of Baltimore's victory.
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