Coming into the 2015 season, the world was at the feet of wide receiver Torrey Smith. In four years with the Baltimore Ravens, Smith had simply dominated alongside Joe Flacco. The duo would make the playoffs three times and of course go all the way to the promised land by winning Super Bowl XLXVII. What followed was a move away from Baltimore, and a five-year $40M contract with San Francisco. What followed was a disappointing two-year campaign that saw Smith register 53 receptions for 930 yards and 7 touchdowns. These numbers were not reminiscent of the number one threat that the Niners hoped he would become, but then he found greener pastures. The grass truly was greener on the other side in this case and Smith is now on the edge of his second Super Bowl ring.
His season didn’t start off particularly consistently. After a stunning 30-yard catch against the Redskins and a 70-yard outing against the Cardinals, Smith began to dip in form. The problems seemed to start one week before this when the 6’0 wideout dropped two passes against the Chargers, but he would then total two catches in four weeks for a total of 16 yards. After taking to Twitter to call it ‘the worst stretch of his career’, Smith put his mind to bouncing back.
Since that game, Smith didn’t drop another pass and a 100-yard game against the Rams showed Eagles fans what they had been aching to see all season long, signs of an explosive wideout with plenty of upside left. But what separates a good receiver from a great one is their ability to make a catch when the game is on the line or when the pressure is at a new high.
In the post-season, Smith has been absolutely brilliant. With 108 yards on 8 receptions and that beautiful ‘flea-flicker’ touchdown, he’s been a reliable target for Nick Foles.
“It’s crunch time, man.” Smith said after the win over Minnesota. “I knew that going into the game that I could be a difference maker in the way I performed. That’s a tough defense over there, and I knew that I’d have a few opportunities for big plays. When it came, I just knew I had to execute.”
Smith’s confidence never wavered and as a result, he’s now set to take on a huge role against the Patriots. In both of the playoff games so far, the Eagles have unleashed a deep shot to Smith in the early stages of the game with the intent to set the tone. With mixed success, it’s been made abundantly clear that he still has just as much potential to burn teams deep down the field. Nick Foles has found solace in the former Ravens receiver and will look for that same comfort on the grandest stage of all.
The 29-year old has proven he can do it in the post-season time and time again and the Super Bowl is no different. He ended the Ravens Super Bowl win with 35 yards on 2 receptions, with one being a huge 20-yard gain. Now, with a chance to do it all over again, the Maryland product isn’t taking it for granted.
“It means the world.” Smith said after the Vikings win. “That’s why you play the game, to be in this position. For us, that was our goal from Day One – to be in this position. We believed since Day One when no one else believed in us and obviously everyone just kind of jumped on board when we were hot and when we were rolling. We lost some key players and folks fell off, but we didn’t. Our goal will always remain the same and we’ll just continue to work and this is just a product of that.”
It’s been a process for the Eagles this year. A story of underdogs and fairytales. Torrey Smith’s story may be just as captivating considering that his struggles occurred within the miraculous campaign itself. An ability to remain focused, confident and hungry led Smith to a resurgence that now sees him as a top threat that the Patriots will have to account for. But will this all lead to a second Super Bowl ring?
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports