FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots are hoping to avoid another “Ice up, son” situation when they host Steve Smith and the Baltimore Ravens this week on “Monday Night Football.”
“Don’t talk to him,” Patriots safety Duron Harmon said Thursday, referring to Smith, the veteran wide receiver/smack talk maestro. “As you can see on film, when people get to talking to him, that’s when he gets going. And we don’t want that at all.”
The Patriots know that all too well.
After catching four passes for 62 yards during a 2013 win over New England, Smith, then with the Carolina Panthers, roasted Pats cornerback Aqib Talib in an on-field interview immediately after the game. Smith and Talib had gone at it all night, and the wideout wanted to make sure the banged-up D-back knew who came out on top.
Smith has been doing that kind of thing since before most of the Patriots’ current defensive backs were even in high school. The 25-year-old Harmon, for example, is more than a full decade younger than Smith, who will turn 38 this spring.
Yet Smith, who was a member of the 2003 Panthers team that lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII, still is putting up numbers. After missing the second half of last season with a torn Achilles, he has played in 10 of Baltimore’s 12 games this season, catching 54 passes for 589 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s a phenomenal player,” Harmon said. “He’s had a phenomenal career. He’s a guy that you just have to have a ton of respect for. He had that Achilles injury last year, and he’s out here playing football. A ton of respect for him, and I can’t wait to compete against him.”
Smith’s lone game against the Patriots in a Ravens uniform came in the 2014 divisional round. He caught three passes for 44 yards and a touchdown and also drew a pass interference call on Darrelle Revis as New England won 35-31.
“A lot of respect,” Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler said of Smith. “Age of 37, man, he’s out there running around like he’s 26 or 27. That’s a lot of respect. Great player.”
Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports Images