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Did Steve Smith cost the Ravens a win?

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Big catches in crunch time have been a signature for the veteran wide receiver. So what happened last week?

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I wasn't sure I would live to see the day when Steve Smith choked a game away in the closing minutes, but that's exactly what happened on Sunday.

With 42 seconds remaining in the game, the Ravens losing 19-13 and facing a second-and-10 with the ball at the Denver 16-yard line, Smith found himself to be in the familiar position of potentially being the hero for his team. The Broncos decided to play man-to-man, which almost cost them dearly. Smith lined up out wide to the left bunched up with fellow Ravens receiver Kamar Aiken before the ball was snapped, and the two of them ran a beautiful route combination.

Smith was the widest and off the ball. Aiken, who was inside and up on the ball, initially ran outside toward the sideline and pushed up the field about 10 yards. Smith ran to the inside of Aiken, who he was trailing because of their initial alignment, then pushed up about 10 yards also. At that point the nickel corner, Bradley Roby, kind of sat on Smith's route, probably thinking he would either continue up the field or break inside. Instead, Smith suddenly broke outside on an angle like a corner route and pulled away from Roby into the end zone.

Let me say here that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco could have made things a lot easier for Smith had he aimed the throw more toward the back pylon, as Smith had Roby beaten like a drum. Flacco threw it more toward the front pylon, which meant he had to loft it a bit more to make sure Smith had room to catch it and stay in bounds.

That allowed Roby to close in on Smith just as the ball was arriving and maybe graze the football -- hard to tell from even the super slow-mo angle on the broadcast -- but at the very least, his hand probably obstructed Smith's view of the flight of the ball, at least for a second.

This is still a play we've come to expect Steve Smith Sr. to make, especially in crunch time like that. The guy practically thrives on pressure-packed situations, so for me to see that ball hit him in the chest then fall to the ground incomplete at that point in the game, with victory in reach, was just stunning. Nobody catches them all I suppose, but I'm sure that drop is going to piss Smith off for a long, long while. The Broncos definitely caught a break on Sunday.

Maybe it isn't fair to say he choked, but when you raise the bar as high as he has in his storied career, that's just how it goes.