Torrey Smith was so good on such a tragic day, but it still didn’t make the refereeing issue go away. He caught two touchdown passes in the most important of moments, less than 24 hours after the death of his younger brother in a motorcycle accident, leading the Baltimore Ravens to a 31-30 win over the New England Patriots, and still the replacement referee issue won’t go away.
Smith came up big in three specific drives. The Patriots and Tom Brady felt very comfortable, going up 13-0 after the first 15 minutes. Torrey Smith was there to put the Ravens on the board, completing the 82 yard drive with a 25 yard touchdown catch from Joe Flacco, who looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, throwing for 382 yards, three touchdown passes and an interceptions, finishing with better numbers, QBR and rating than Tom Brady.
Smith made his second big catch when the Ravens were trailing by six points in the third quarter, grabbing a pass for 32 yards to convert on third down, setting up Ray Rice’s touchdown to give the Ravens their first lead of the game. Baltimore slid back and were behind by nine at a certain point in the fourth quarter, but Flacco found Smith again after a 92 yard drive, grabbing a five yard touchdown to put the Ravens a field goal away from a victory. Justin Tucker, the rookie, nailed that winning field goal with 00:00 on the clock.
Smith could have skipped this game and no one would have said anything. The healthy escape being part of a sports team, a second family to many, gave him the strength to initially cope with the loss of his brother. Smith shed some tears before the game, as the Ravens rallied to take the field, thanking them, telling his teammates how much this meant to him. He finished 127 yards on six catches, extremely enjoying Joe Flacco’s consistency with the play action (19 out of 39 plays), catching four of Flacco’s passes on the play fake.
I don’t know if Smith was happy at the end of the game, but he was certanily feeling somewhat better about himself on the heels of such an unmeasurable loss. You can be certain the New England Patriots weren’t happy with everything that happened from the second quarter and onwards. Instead of looking at themselves and mostly their defensive problems, Bill Belichick decided to grab one of the officials on his way off the field.
He later refused to comment, except saying something about the amount of penalties. The Ravens were flagged 14 times, the Patriots 10. The last controversial call, a pass interference on Devin McCourty with 52 seconds left in the game that gave Baltimore a first-and-goal from New England’s 7-yard line, giving the Ranves the chance to win the game, was the right call.
Someone once said to me that if both sides complain about the officials it means they did a good job, but the Ravens just kept silent because they won. Both team’s defenses were curbed by the bad officiating, going against anything that looked a bit over aggressive. Sometimes they made right calls, plenty of times they had it wrong. Too often this season they had it wrong. Even memorable moments and nights, special games for someone like Torrey Smith are marred by the NFL’s number one problem at the moment.