Ravens coach John Harbaugh announced that Smith suffered a torn Achilles during the team's 29-26 win over the Chargers in Baltimore.
The 36-year old announced in August that this would be his final campaign, and our final image of him will be a sad one. Smith had to be carried off the field with a towel over his face, unable to put any weight on his right leg. Just minutes prior to the injury, Smith had passed Cris Carter for 10th in career receiving yards.
"He's pretty shook up about it," Harbaugh said after the game. "Shook up's not a right word. He's just really -- he's hurting."
If this is it for Smith, one of the best receivers of his generation will go out playing like a Pro Bowler. He was eighth in receiving yards heading into Week 8 despite missing a game to injury. He led the Ravens in receiving again Sunday with five catches and 82 yards. Losing Smith is a devastating development for a Ravens offense bereft of playmaking; he's more than doubled anyone on the team in receiving yards. It's also a big loss for the NFL.
We believe that Smith is a Hall of Famer, and Chris Wesseling wrote the definitive case for him back in August. He often carried Panthers offenses that weren't pass-heavy and did it all with a rare toughness, explosiveness and competitiveness for his position.
Ronde Barber called Steve Smith the toughest receiver he's ever covered. Larry Fitzgerald once called Smith the best route runner in the league.
Harbaugh, for one, didn't want to give up hope that Smith could play again.
"I have a feeling Steve Smith will be back," he said. "I love him, respect him, admire him. I told him that. That's the kind of man he is and he'll be back."