Baltimore Ravens vs. Carolina Panthers: Five Keys To Victory

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Sep 11, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. (89) breaks the tackle of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons (94) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Key to victory #3: Steve Smith continues to deliver clutch plays

What’s the one common theme on offense for the Ravens this year?  Clutch plays by Steve Smith.  Last week, Smith pretty much gets the credit for the win after he blew by Joe Haden and caught a pass to put the Ravens in field goal position with precious little time left.  Even in week one’s loss to the Bengals, he reeled in an 80 yard touchdown that would have won the game if A.J. Green hadn’t followed up with his own deep TD pass 48 seconds later.

Smith is amped up about facing the team that released him this offseason because he was “washed up.”  And despite what the Panthers coaches say, he is the biggest offensive threat on this team right now.  Smith has dominated targets because he is repeatedly getting open and running sharp routes.  He has also caused 11 missed tackles, which is more than double what anyone else in the NFL has recorded thus far.

Couple those numbers with a player who is supremely motivated, and we’ll call it safe that Smith plays a big role in this game. Pretty much everyone has doubted him to this point, but he is like the Energizer bunny of wide receivers.  Age be darned, Steve Smith is going to continue to eat opposing secondaries alive until he decides that he is done, on his own terms.