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Has Steve Smith had a Hall of Fame worthy career?

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Has Steve Smith had a Hall of Fame worthy career?

Has Steve Smith had a Hall of Fame worthy career?

I say yes, although some would probably disagree. Smith announced Monday that he planned to retire after this season.

If I am making Smith’s case for Canton, I’d look at three traits:

1.  Longevity – This will be Smith’s 15th NFL season, and he has played his entire career at a high level. His first 1,000-yard season was in 2003. He did it again last year (1,065 yards) at age 35. Smith has had eight 1,000-yard seasons, including four straight from 2005-2008. He’s currently 14th on the all-time list for receiving yards (13,262), with Reggie Wayne (14,345) and Andre Johnson (13,597) the only active players ahead of Smith. If Smith has another 1,000-yard season, he’ll crack the top-10 all-time for receiving yards, and he’ll pass two Hall of Famer receivers, James Lofton (14,004) and Cris Carter (13,899). Smith’s numbers are already in Hall of Fame company.

2.  Dominance – Smith was the last receiver to lead the league in yards, catches, and touchdowns in a single season. Only two other receivers have ever done that – Jerry Rice in 1990, and Sterling Sharpe in 1992. Smith did it in 2005, with 1,563 yards, 103 catches, and 12 touchdowns. That same season, Smith went off in the playoffs with 27 catches for 335 yards and three touchdowns in three games, leading the Panthers to their only Super Bowl appearance. Two years later in 2007, Smith led the NFL in receiving yards (1,421) when the Panthers were last in the NFL in pass attempts. To be a Hall of Fame player, I believe you must be a dominant player at your position. During his best seasons, Smith was dominance.

3.  Presence – Spend 15 minutes watching Smith, and you can tell how passionate he is. Not just during games, but during practices. Smith doesn’t believe in taking snaps off, and he won’t stand for teammates taking snaps off either. Smith was a team leader for 13 seasons with the Panthers, and he became a team leader with the Ravens the signed. Sometimes Smith looses his temper, but he raises the level of every team he plays on. That’s another mark of a great player. Another reason why I believe Smith should be headed for Canton.

RELATED: Steve Smith makes decision on retirement

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Baltimore Ravens Week 6 awards after shutout win over Titans

Baltimore Ravens Week 6 awards after shutout win over Titans

The Baltimore Ravens went into the Tennessee Titans' home and completely robbed them in a 21-0 shutout win.

Here are the players and plays that stood out from the afternoon.

PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME: Ravens Defense

The Ravens defense had a historic afternoon recording a franchise-record 11 sacks. Yup, you read that right. 11 sacks.

Za'Darius Smith led the way with three, followed by Patrick Onwuasor with two and Matthew Judon, Terrell Suggs, Tony Jefferson, Kenny Young, Anthony Levine Sr. and Chris Wormley with one apiece. The 11 sacks tied for the second most by a team in league history and the most in a game since 2012.  It was so historic, the Ravens changed their Twitter name to included 11 S's. 

But that wasn't the only impressive part of the Ravens' afternoon. Marcus Mariota was limited to 10 completions and the defense allowed just 51 passing yards  —  the fewest in franchise history  — and 55 rushing yards. The Titans finished the afternoon 1-for-10 on third down as well.

With the shutout, the Ravens defense cemented its place as one of the NFL's most elite units in 2018. A win that must have been extra sweet after a 12-9 overtime loss to the Browns the week prior and with former defensive coordinator Dean Pees staring back from the opposite sideline. The Ravens remain the only NFL team to not allow a second-half touchdown this season. 

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE GAME: Michael Crabtree

After dropping what would have been the game-winning touchdown Week 5 against the Browns, Michael Crabtree said his priority this week was to get back into the lab and correct his mistakes. Out the gate, the veteran receiver stayed true to his word finishing the Ravens' first drive catching three passes for 52 yards and one touchdown. Earlier in the week, Joe Flacco had faith his receiver would get over the hump of six drops in five games and was willing to stand by him until it happened.

"Besides just trying to give him the confidence that, you know, I'm still going his way when he calls for it and I still believe that it's going to be the difference...it's something that he'll definitely get over," Flacco said.

The patience worked as Crabtree finished the day with six receptions for 93 yards and one touchdown leading all Ravens receivers.

But more importantly, the relationship between Crabtree and Flacco continues to grow.

"That’s trust. That’s what you need in football, you know," Crabtree said postgame. "Quarterback, receiver relationship. It’s only going to get better. It’s all about how much time you put in, how much work you put in. I’m new; this is my first year here so I got to do what I got to do."

STAT OF THE GAME: Flacco makes his way into the history books

With 25 completions Sunday against the Titans, Flacco became the third different quarterback in NFL history to complete 25 or more passes in nine consecutive games, per the NFL's communication department. Drew Brees sits atop the list with 11 and 10 consecutive games followed by Peyton Manning with nine. Flacco finished the 21-0 win 25-for-37 with 238 yards, one touchdown and one interception. 

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Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks against former defensive coordinator

Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks against former defensive coordinator

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Baltimore Ravens swarmed around their new defensive coordinator, Don "Wink" Martindale, celebrating after a game that will go down in the record books.

Getting 11 sacks along with a shutout against the man Martindale replaced makes this mark even sweeter.

Za'Darius Smith had a career-high three sacks as the Ravens piled up the franchise-record Sunday in routing the Tennessee Titans 21-0 in the rain, just missing the NFL record shared by five teams by one.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh called it an "historic defensive performance."

The Ravens (4-2) smothered Tennessee, allowing just 106 yards of offense while they turned Marcus Mariota's day into the worst of his NFL career. Eight different Ravens sacked Mariota, and four got their first sack this season at his expense. The Titans never got closer to the end zone than the Ravens 37, each time pushed back with yet another sack.

"We want to be something special out there," Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon said. "For Wink, it's great to go against his predecessor, and he stepped up and we came through and pitched a shutout. You don't ever talk about unicorns while you're doing it, but we got it done. We got it done for him, and we celebrated after."

Martindale was promoted to defensive coordinator when Dean Pees retired after last season. His retirement lasted less than a month with first-year coach Mike Vrabel luring Pees to join him as the Titans' defensive coordinator.

Asked about Pees, Smith only said that the coordinator told him at his pro day at Kentucky that the linebacker would be a Raven.

"Love him to death, but hey, we won tonight, so we're going to leave it at that," Smith said with a smile.

The Titans (3-3) had not been shut out at home since the franchise relocated to Tennessee.

"That's the headline: The `Tennessee Titans didn't do nearly enough on all levels to win the football game,'" Vrabel said. "Or even make it competitive."

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