Ravens, Smith persevere in win over Patriots
The Ravens don't have much time to re-energize themselves after an emotionally draining win over the New England Patriots.
Baltimore must shift its attention to Thursday night's game against Cleveland after overcoming a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit, 14 penalties and the play of Tom Brady in a 31-30 victory Sunday night.
At the center of it was wide receiver Torrey Smith, who scored two touchdowns less than 24 hours after his younger brother was killed in a motorcycle accident.
''My teammates, I love them to death, and they helped get me through this,'' said Smith, who caught six passes for 127 yards.
Smith spent much of Sunday with his family. Upon arriving at the stadium, he was quickly surrounded by a sincere and caring support group.
''That's our brother,'' safety Bernard Pollard said. ''Torrey came, and he won. That says a lot about him. We're just grateful here to have him on our team, so we'll rally behind him. Anytime you lose family, that's really tough. But he has 60-plus men and coaches that are family in here.''
Smith agonized over the decision of whether to play after his brother, 19-year-old Tevin Jones, ran his motorcycle off the side of a road and crashed into a utility pole in Virginia.
''He's honest, he had a great heart,'' Smith said. ''A lot of people say that all the time when people pass, but he truly was that person. When you see him mad, you'd always laugh because it didn't look right. So, to be around him, his big smile and his laugh, which was probably one of the most annoying laughs ever, I'm definitely going to miss him.''
Once he committed himself to playing, Smith wasn't about to simply go through the motions.
''When I was here, my teammates, they keep you focused. You've got to go out there and play,'' he said. ''I didn't want to be out there, just running around, doing nothing. If I was going to be out there, I was going to give it my all. Afterward is when you can sit back and reflect on things.''
It certainly was night worth reflecting upon. In a rematch of the AFC championship, the Ravens extended their home winning streak to 12 with a rousing win that went down to the final play - a 27-yard field goal by rookie Justin Tucker.
''We had that last opportunity, and we wanted to show people what this team was all about,'' tight end Dennis Pitta said.
Pitta, like almost everyone else on the team, expressed the highest regard for Smith.
''There's not a better person on this team than Torrey Smith, and to come out and play the way he did with all that adversity and turmoil in his life right now, the guy is unbelievable,'' Pitta said. ''Enough can't be said about him.''
Brady completed 28 of 41 passes for 335 yards and a score for the Patriots (1-2), but Baltimore got 382 yards passing and three touchdowns from Joe Flacco in their first-ever regular season win over New England.
It was a victory worth savoring, but the Ravens (2-1) had no choice but to turn their focus toward their matchup with the winless Browns (0-3). It will be fourth game in 18 games for Baltimore, which hasn't lost a game against an AFC North opponent since 2010.
''We have to let this one go right now. We have to move on,'' cornerback Lardius Webb said.
''It's going to be tough, and we knew that,'' linebacker Ray Lewis said. ''So we're going to have to get healthy and get healthy real quick. Cleveland doesn't care how we feel.''
Ray Rice, who ran for 101 yards and a touchdown, began thinking about the Browns soon after midnight on Monday.
''I've got my iPad. I'm going to be watching Cleveland when I'm driving home,'' he said. ''I can't go out tonight because we have practice tomorrow. So if I'm going to stay up for a few hours, I might as well study the Browns.''
Baltimore (2-1) faces the winless Browns at home. It will be the fourth game in 18 days for the Ravens, who are tied with Cincinnati atop the AFC North.