T. Smith Has Coming Out Party

The rookie WR’s first start will go down as one of the greatest in NFL history.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Sunday, September 25th, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink, Week 3 at Rams

Months into his NFL career, Ravens rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith had already received Twitter messages from fans saying he couldn’t catch a cold.

After a couple preseason drops, he admitted he was pressing, while his head coach told critics to back off and let him develop. He was targeted once and had no receptions in his first two NFL games.

But Smith kept his confidence.

On the way to the Edward Jones Dome Sunday afternoon, the player nicknamed “Tweet” by his teammates, sent a message to his followers. “Excited about my first start … I have a good feeling about today,” he wrote.

Boy was Smith right.

Torrey Smith’s 3 TDs vs. Rams
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On just the second play of the game, the rookie sprinted past the Rams defense for a 74-yard touchdown on his first-ever NFL reception.

That would have been enough for a memorable debut. But Smith just kept running by St. Louis’ defensive backs.

His next play was a 41-yard touchdown. The one after that was an 18-yard touchdown. Three NFL catches, three touchdowns.

He finished with five receptions for 152 yards and three scores and had a rush of 10 yards.

It will go down as one of the greatest first starts for a wide receiver in NFL history, one heck of a coming out party and a signal to all his critics that Smith can play.

“I never doubted myself for a minute,” Smith said. “I’ve been playing football forever, making plays for forever.

“I know I can play, the coaches know I can play and my teammates believe in me, so it was only a matter of time.”

Smith is the first rookie in NFL history to recored three touchdown receptions in the first quarter of a game.

Since 1991, the Maryland product is the first rookie to have his first three NFL receptions go for touchdowns. The research goes back to 1991, so he could be the first ever.

“Torrey Smith, what can you say? You talk about a breakout performance in the first quarter. That’s pretty historic right there,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “Now the challenge is to build on it.”

Smith had a challenging start to his NFL career.

After a lockout that made learning the playbook more difficult, the second-round pick dropped two passes against the Washington Redskins in the Ravens’ preseason. Afterwards quarterback Joe Flacco said the young receiver just needed to relax and let his natural talents take over.

This past week, with the Ravens knowing they were going to sit starting wide receiver Lee Evans (ankle), Smith had his best week of practice yet. He said he dropped only one pass. As Harbaugh said after Sunday’s explosion, it was just a case of transferring that to the game.

“I told him, ‘Go back to playing schoolyard football,’” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “If you were the fastest, then make everyone catch you.”

The Ravens didn’t wait long to send Smith deep.

On just the second snap of the game, with cornerback Justin King lined up in press coverage and a single safety up top, Flacco said he “took a shot.”

He lofted a deep pass along the right sideline, where Smith had almost instantaneously gotten a step on King. Smith hauled it in and took off, untouched.

“He’s an explosive player,” Flacco said. “We het gets up and going, you can really lay a ball out there for him.”

Smith went back to the sideline, where fellow rookie wide receiver LaQuan Williams simply said, “N.C. State?” He was referring to the 14-reception, 224-yard, four-touchdown performance Smith turned in during his final college regular-season game.

The two laughed. But when Smith caught two more touchdowns on the next two passes, the notion of a repeat didn’t seem so absurd.

What was surprising, at least to onlookers, is how Smith continued to sprint past the Rams secondary, seemingly with the same route.

But it wasn’t to Smith.

“That’s what I can do. I can stretch the field,” Smith said. “For me to have a game like this, I think it definitely helps us out in games going forward that guys have to respect me going deep.”

The respect for Smith will certainly escalate after his breakout performance.

Smith was already anticipating answering the Tweets from his newfound fans. And this time around, they’ll probably be a bit more complimentary.

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