After passing Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter for 10th all-time on the NFL's all-time receiving yardage list following a nine-yard reception in the second quarter of the Baltimore Ravens 29-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers, the spirits of Canton-bound wideout Steve Smith were soaring.
However, Smith's happiness came crashing down in the third quarter of the contest, as the 15-year veteran tore his right Achilles tendon after turning upfield and being tripped up around midfield after a 17-yard reception, ending his season and most likely his career.
Having vowed prior to the beginning of the 2015 campaign that this year would be his last in the NFL, it appears as if Smith will conclude his legendary career having garnered 13,932 receiving yards, 33 yards above Carter's mark and 72 yards behind ninth-place James Lofton for 10th all-time on the NFL's receiving yardage list.
Smith, whose name had been swirling through the trade rumor mill in the midst of 2-6 Baltimore's slow start to the season, finished with five receptions for 82 yards on Sunday afternoon, his performance headlined by a 46-yard grab on a deep ball from quarterback Joe Flacco midway through the first quarter.
The 36-year old received Pro Bowl nods in 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2011, all while a member of the Carolina Panthers. His league-leading 103 catche, 1,563 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns in 2005 earned him First Team All-Pro honors.
Smith led the NFL in receiving yards per game in 2008 with 101.5 per contest. After being released from the Panthers following the 2013 season, Smith latched on to the Ravens, where he enjoyed a wildly successful 2014 campaign of 79 catches for 1,065 yards and six touchdowns, including a vengeful 10-catch, 139-yard, two-touchdown effort against his former team in a Week 4 win.
The Los Angeles native currently leads Baltimore in receptions (41), receiving yards (588), and receiving touchdowns (three). Smith's injury decapitates and already thin receiving corps for the Ravens, as heralded rookie wideout Breshad Perriman is currently absent from the team with a PCL injury that he suffered prior to the season.
From here on out, expect Flacco to primarily target wideouts Kamar Aiken and Chris Givens in addition to tight end Crockett Gillmore in Smith's absence.