Smith stars after tragedy to spark Ravens over Patriots
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith, center, rushes between New England Patriots defenders Dont'a Hightower (54) and Steve Gregory in the second half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. AP photoHours after his younger brother's death in a motorcycle accident, Torrey Smith caught six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns Sunday to spark Baltimore over New England 31-30 in an NFL showdown.
The Ravens receiver wiped away tears moments before the game began after a moment of silence for his brother, Tevin Jones, who died in an early morning crash and for whom Smith dedicated his effort.
"It means a lot to me. It means a lot to my family as well," Smith said. "That was for my little brother.
"I almost didn't play. I thank everybody for all the support, my teammates and friends. My high school coach is taking care of my mom. Everyone is showing a lot of love." Smith caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to pull Baltimore within 30-28 with 4:01 to play. He had caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Flacco in the second quarter for the Ravens' first points.
"It's unbelievable," Flacco said. "I can't imagine what he's going through. For him to show up and play is one thing. Then to play the way he did, and our guys to rally around him, was really unbelievable." After a New England punt, a pass interference penalty on the Patriots set up Justin Tucker's game-winning 27-yard field goal on the final play, giving the Ravens their first regular-season victory over New England in seven tries.
Atlanta, Arizona and Houston emerged as the NFL's only undefeated teams after three weeks, two clubs doing so after knocking off other unbeaten squads, but the day's most emotional game was at Baltimore.
The Patriots and Ravens met for the first time since last season's playoff semi-final showdown last January, which New England won 23-20 to reach the Super Bowl after Baltimore missed a field goal in the final seconds.
This time, Baltimore got the field goal on coach John Harbaugh's 50th birthday and dropped the Patriots to 1-2 for the first time since 2001 and below .500 at any point in the season for the first time in nine years.
Ray Rice's 7-yard touchdown run 3:24 into the third quarter gave the Ravens a 21-20 lead, but New England answered on Danny Woodhead's 3-yard touchdown run and a 20-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal, setting up Smith's late heroics.
"For that guy to even be out here and having the game he had, it was amazing," Rice said.
Arizona's Kevin Kolb made Philadelphia pay for trading him to the Cardinals last year, completing 17-of-24 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-6 home rout of the previously unbeaten Eagles.
"They played better than we did," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "That's my responsibility. I didn't have my football team ready to play. They did." The Cardinals have not started 3-0 since 1974 when they were still based in St. Louis. The team moved to Arizona before the 1988 season.
Atlanta's Matt Ryan completed 30-of-40 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns to power the Falcons over previously unbeaten host San Diego 27-3.
Michael Turner ran for 80 yards and a touchdown for Atlanta, 3-0 for the first time since 2004.
Houston's Matt Schaub completed 17-of-30 passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns to give Texas a 31-25 victory at Denver, pushing the Texans to 3-0 for the first time since the club first took the field in 2002.
Peyton Manning completed half of his 52 passes, his 26 misfires the most in his NFL career, for 330 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a losing cause.
San Francisco missed a chance to start 3-0 for the first time since 1998 with a 24-13 loss at Minnesota, with Christian Ponder throwing two touchdown passes to Kyle Rudolph and running for another touchdown for the host Vikings.
Ryan Succop kicked the last of his six field goals 8:33 into over-time to give Kansas City a 27-24 victory at New Orleans. The Chiefs scored the game's last 21 points to leave the Saints and Cleveland the NFL's only winless teams.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees completed a touchdown pass in his 46th consecutive game, one shy of the NFL record held by Johnny Unitas.
Tennessee edged Detroit 44-41 on a 26-yard over-time field goal by Rob Bironas while Nick Folk's over-time kick gave the New York Jets a 23-20 victory over Miami.
In other games Sunday, Cincinnati beat Washington 38-31, Oakland edged Pittsburgh 34-31, Jacksonville downed Indianapolis 22-17, Dallas defeated Tampa Bay 16-10, Chicago routed St. Louis 23-6 and Buffalo beat Cleveland 24-14.