J. Smith Outplayed In First Full Start

Teammates praised rookie J. Smith for playing like a warrior while San Diego targeted him.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Monday, December 19th, 2011 at 2:13 am | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, Ryan Mink, Week 15 vs Chargers

Jimmy Smith’s first full-time starting nod will be a night to forget.

Playing in front of family and friends from local Southern California, the first-round rookie cornerback was often attacked by San Diego’s offense and often lost.

By the end of it, the Ravens had surrendered 270 passing yards to quarterback Philip Rivers, including 180 to 6-foot-5 wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd.

“You don’t want to go out in a game like this and basically get embarrassed like we did,” Smith said. “The frustration just came when we weren’t doing the things we needed to do that we know we can do.”

Smith got the nod over usual starter Lardarius Webb, who was active but limited to the third cornerback spot because of a toe injury. Webb didn’t practice all week.

Smith also provided additional size over Webb, that would seem to make for a better matchup against Jackson and Floyd.

However, the Chargers exploited Smith’s youth.

NBC’s Cris Collinsworth said on the broadcast that Head Coach Norv Turner told him that Smith was “overconfident” heading into the game. So the Chargers offense decided to target the young corner. Turner did not make reference to that after the game.

The Chargers were able to break free from him at the line of scrimmage, and cut off routes when Smith gave them a big buffer underneath.

Smith was beaten on San Diego’s only passing touchdown of the night, a 28-yard strike from Rivers to Floyd that gave the Chargers a 24-7 lead after their first drive of the second half.

Smith said the Chargers “had everything clicking” and that they had the Ravens’ defense schemed up well.

“They ran their routes well, they ran a couple double moves that caught us off guard,” the rookie said. “They got a couple big plays and then they got up on us early so we were on our heels.”

Smith had previously shined in his rookie season. He entered the game with two interceptions in his last four games while serving as the third cornerback.

He wasn’t the only defensive back who had problems versus the Chargers Sunday night.

Fellow starting cornerback Cary Williams was beaten on a 58-yard strike to Jackson that set up another Chargers touchdown.

“It’s just unfortunate that it happened to both of us,” Williams said. “We all didn’t play perfect tonight. We all gave up something. It’s just something we’ve got to bounce back and learn from and make sure we get this win next week.”

Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano told his young cornerbacks during the game to keep their heads in it and continue with their fundamentals.

But under seige all night, it was difficult to recover.

“When it rains it pours,” safety Ed Reed said before talking about his young cornerbacks.

“It’s going through adversity. When you go through adversity, you’ve got to be able to stand up. The hard part is you have to make those corrections within 60 minutes.”

Williams applauded the way Smith hung in there despite the Chargers attacking him. He did have one nice pass breakup along the sideline in the second half.

“Jimmy went in there and played like a warrior if you ask me,” Williams said. “He didn’t give up. That’s what you look for in a starting cornerback, a guy that can come back on the next play and make plays.”

The Ravens could get Webb back to his normal starting position against the Browns next week. Webb leads the Ravens in interceptions (four) and pass deflections (14).

Webb said he came out of Sunday’s game healthy.

“Would I prefer to start?” Webb said. “I was very confident in Jimmy Smith. I just knew he could do the job. Me being a competitor, I’m always going to want to start, but I don’t want to go out there and hurt the team. I want to help the team, not hurt them. We’re going to see next week.”

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