A phone call in the middle of the night. A long drive at 2 a.m. A devastating loss. A decision. A moment of silence.
Then Torrey Smith lit up the night.
Less than 24 hours after the death of his brother, Smith caught six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns, propelling the Ravens to a 31-30 win over rival New England Patriots.
The news was sudden and shocking. Nineteen year old Tevin Jones had been killed in a motorcycle accident. In the dark, early hours of the morning, Smith traveled to Virginia to be with his family.
Just hours before the game, and after only one hour of sleep, Smith rejoined his teammates in Baltimore. He would play. And he would shine.
The energy and support of his teammates and the home crowd were with Smith. He responded by reigniting Baltimore when New England dominated the scoreboard. Twice, Smith's touchdown passes brought the game back within the Ravens' reach.
His first grab in the end zone put the Ravens on the board after they had fallen ten points behind the Patriots. As his teammates celebrated the score, Smith knelt and pointed to the sky. Television cameras captured the tears in his eyes.
His second touchdown set the stage for a big defensive stop and the game winning field goal.
Perhaps as important as the points Smith put on the board was the strength he showed that inspired strength and determination in his teammates. Rallying around Smith and his brilliant play, Baltimore's defense and offense took over the last two series to win the game in the final seconds.
“[W]e all wanted to rally around him and go get it for him,” said quarterback Joe Flacco.
Safety Bernard Pollard added, “Torrey came, he came and he won, so that says a lot about him. We're just grateful here to have him on our team, so we'll rally behind him, and he's going to be okay.”
Smith told reporters he didn't know if he was going to play or not until around 4 p.m.
“I didn't know how I would hold up,” he said.
After holding up and lifting his team up, Smith is clear about one thing.
“It's part of life,” Smith said, “And, due to my teammates and my family and friends, I'll be able to get over it.”
He said playing in the game helped him “a lot.”
Ray Lewis, who embraced Smith for a good 45 seconds after the victory, pointed out to teammates and reporters that life is about so much more than football. As much as the win means to Torrey Smith, remembering his brother means far more.
Smith spoke of his brother in a quiet tone, eyes turned down.
“When you see him mad, you'd always laugh because it didn't look right. So, to be around him, his big smile and his laugh, which was probably one of the most annoying laughs ever, I'm definitely going to miss him.”