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Shutdown Corner

Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith torch Champ Bailey for two touchdowns in first half of Ravens-Broncos

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

This hasn't been Champ Bailey's best day. (USAT Sports Images)

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco may be erratic at times, but when he's on, there may be no better player in the league when it comes to pure arm talent. Flacco has certainly proven that in the first half of the divisional game between the Ravens and Denver Broncos. As we detailed before, the scoring was fast and furious to start, and one of those touchdowns came with 10:39 left in the first quarter when receiver Torrey Smith simply ran right by Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey for a 59-yard touchdown. The first quarter ended with a 14-14 tie.

Peyton Manning broke that tie with a pretty 14-yard throw to running back Knowshon Moreno with 7:32 left in the second quarter, but Flacco got his own back with Smith's help. with 43 seconds left in the first half and the ball at the Baltimore 32-yard line, Flacco went up top, and Smith -- who was trailed by Bailey in one-on-one coverage -- used his speed to outright beat the veteran.

[Also: How did Ray Lewis go from murder suspect to NFL royalty?]

To Smith's credit, this wasn't about speed -- Bailey had inside position, and Smith geared down to get under the ball. Then, at the three-yard line, Smith got vertical and made an amazing leaping catch. From there, running it into the end zone was gravy. Flacco also overshot Smith on a long throw in the first half, so Bailey's day could be even worse.

This is not to bash Bailey -- he's a future Hall-of-Famer, and he's played very well for the most part this season. Per the metrics assembled by both STATS, Inc. and Pro Football Focus, Bailey allowed just one regular-season touchdown on pass plays in which he was the primary target. But as much as the Broncos have safety help up top, they should seriously consider using it in the second half. Flacco and Smith are in a major groove.

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