Former Helix star Smith is NFL’s top passer after upset of Patriots

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Though the Chargers have departed San Diego for supposedly greener pastures in Los Angeles, Helix High School graduate Alex Smith continues to keep America’s Finest City in the NFL spotlight after leading the league with 368 passing yards in last week’s round of season opening games.

Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs earned the spotlight in Week 1 with their 42-27 defeat of the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots Sept. 7 in Foxboro, Mass. 

Though the Chargers have departed San Diego for supposedly greener pastures in Los Angeles, Helix High School graduate Alex Smith continues to keep America’s Finest City in the NFL spotlight after leading the league with 368 passing yards in last week’s round of season opening games.

Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs earned the spotlight in Week 1 with their 42-27 defeat of the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots Sept. 7 in Foxboro, Mass. 

Smith completed 28 of 35 passing attempts for 368 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Chiefs to the upset win.

Few expected Smith, now in his 13th year in the league, to out-play New England quarterback Tom Brady, the MVP of Super Bowl LI (51).  

But the former Highlander and University of Utah signal-caller put together one of the finest games in his career to win the head-to-head matchup against Brady, a five-time Super Bowl champion.

Smith, who was sacked three times and rushed five times for three yards in the Thursday Night Football contest, finished the game with a 148.6 quarterback efficiency rating.

Brady, playing in his 18th NFL season (all with the Patriots), completed 16 of 36 passing attempts for 267 yards with no touchdowns and was sacked three times. He finished the game with a 70.0 quarterback rating.

Smith finished Week 1 as the NFL’s top-rated passer both in efficiency rating and adjusted completion percentage.

Minnesota’s Sam Bradford ranked second in the league with a 143.0 passer rating through the opening weekend, followed by the L.A. Rams’ Jared Goff (117.9), Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (116.1), Oakland’s Derek Carr (114.3) and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford (113.1). 

According to statistics maintained by Pro Football Focus, taking into account drops and throwaways, Smith was 30-for-33 with an adjusted 90.9 completion percentage following Sunday’s game.

Smith, 33, is in his fifth season with Kansas City after an eight-year career with the San Francisco 49ers. He looked at the season opening win over the Patriots with the guarded optimism one might expect from a seasoned veteran player. 

“It’s a big win but we’ve got to be able to handle it the right way,” he told reporters at a post-game press conference. “We’ve got to be resilient and turn our attention to next week. We’ve got to be able to stack ’em and stay shortsighted, and have a sense of urgency about our business.”

That being said, he did offer one candid observation. “ It’s certainly the biggest opener I’ve been a part of,” he said. “I’ve just been playing, enjoying the opportunity and not looking beyond it.”

The Chiefs, the defending AFC West champions, trailed 17-7 late in the second quarter before Smith got his team in comeback gear.

Smith beat the Patriots both on the blitz and with the deep pass.

Smith completed eight of 10 passing attempts for an average of 17.9 yards and a 158.3 quarterback rating when blitzed by the New England defense. He was just as deadly with the long pass by completing three of four aerials for 178 deep passing yards and a 156.3 passer rating.

The former two-time CIF champion with Helix (2000-01) aired it out against the Pats.

He threw a 75-yard scoring pass to Tyreek Hill and a 78-yard TD pass to rookie Kareem Hunt. Both players caught the ball on the fly and never missed a stride.

Hunt had a big night with 246 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. The yardage total set a NFL record for a rookie in his pro debut.

Hunt rushed 17 times for 148 yards and scored one touchdown. Hunt also made five catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns, including scores of three and 78 yards.

Hill, who electrified crowds last season, had seven catches for 133 yards and one TD. He scored on a 75-yard strike from Smith in the third quarter to boost the visitors to a 21-17 lead.

Smith also completed a seven-yard scoring pass to Demetrius Harris in the first quarter to tie the game 7-7. Hunt’s three-yard TD reception late in the second quarter made the score 17-14 Patriots at halftime.

The Chiefs put the game on ice with three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including the 78-yard score by Hunt and TD runs by Hunt and Charcandrick West.

Ironically, Hunt fumbled on his first NFL carry but came back to right himself with three touchdowns.

“To start on your first carry like that and have it go like that, it would be hard to overcome for a lot of guys,” Smith explained. “I thought it was awesome coach coming right back to him.

“There was a good chunk there where we were going as Kareem was going, He was a good chunk of the offense. For a young guy we put a lot on him, on all facets of the game plan he was able to handle it, so hats off to him.”

Kansas City head coach Andy Reid said Hunt and Smith have already developed a chemistry together.

“They hit if off from the get-go,” Reid said. “They’re fun to watch.”

The Chiefs enter their next game as favorites when they host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Sept. 17. The Eagles opened the season on Sept. 10 with a 30-17 win over the host Washington Redskins as second-year QB Carson Wentz threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

Kansas City will enter its game against Philadelphia without the services of safety Eric Berry, who ruptured his Achilles tendon during the win over New England. He is set to have surgery and has been placed on injured reserve by the Chiefs.

Berry, the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2015-16, is expected to be out six months, likely for the duration of the season. His chances of returning for the 2018 season appear good, however.

Reid coached Philadelphia for 14 seasons before becoming Kansas City’s head coach.

Extra points

Six quarterbacks passed for 300 or more yards during opening weekend. 

The Vikings’ Bradford threw for a career best 346 yards and three touchdowns in Monday night’s win over the Saints.  

Atlanta’s Ryan threw for 321 yards in the Lions’ 23-17 win at Chicago while Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers chalked up 311 yards in a gritty 17-9 victory against Seattle. Philadelphia’s Wentz passed for 307 yards while the Rams’ Goff collected 306 yards in a 46-9 rout of the visiting Indianapolis Colts.

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