Torrey Smith made a long, painful drive back from Virginia to Baltimore on Sunday, his body wracked by grief and fatigue.
After learning of the fatal motorcycle accident that killed his brother, Tevin Jones, last Saturday night in Virginia, Smith drove there to be with family. He didnt sleep on the way there, or the rest of the night. He said he finally dozed off for about an hour early Sunday morning before returning to Baltimore, where the Ravens were preparing to play a big early-season game against the Patriots.
The Ravens left the decision on whether Smith would play up to him, and he said he decided at about 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon that he would play.
And wow, did he ever play.
Fueled by sheer adrenaline and emotion, Smith finished with six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Ravens to an emotional, thrilling 31-30 win.
After his touchdowns, cheers of Torrey! Torrey! rained down from the announced crowd of 71,269, and there were more emotional hugs than usual for him on the sideline.
When Torrey said he wanted to play, the decision was finished, coach John Harbaugh said. He was going to get the opportunity to play. He deserved that. If it didnt work out, then wed have known, and hed have known. Obviously, hes a pretty special guy.
Smith, who was fighting back tears moments before the game, said afterward that, Emotionally, I didnt know how Id hold up.
Being a receiver, youve got to have your mind clear, he added. You cant have anything weighing on (making you) tense up, thats going to cause you to drop the ball, or have mistakes, and I didnt want to hurt my team. I came here and ran around and the more comfortable I started to feel.
Im glad I came back up here. I think it helped me out a lot.
Jacoby Jones said that in the hours before the game, Im just trying to make him laugh, talk about something different just to ease his mind.
To be able to suffer something like that and come step in between those white lines and play the way he played? I think its great, Jones added. I look up to him. I dont know if Id be able to do that.
Added cornerback Lardarius Webb: If I lose my brother, I dont know if I could play. So I have to look at his character and think hes a very strong guy. Hes a strong cat.
Smith said that much of his extended family, still back in Virginia, wasnt even sure whether he would play, but then he texted his mother to let him know hed be on the field.
She was excited about it, he said. She was like, Of course he would want you to play.