Helix grad Smith leads Chief’s as NFL’s lone unbeaten team

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Alex Smith has been criticized throughout his 13-year NFL career for his lack of zing with the football. Four weeks into the current season, Smith and his Kansas City Chiefs are the league’s lone unbeaten team.

Smith led a dramatic comeback effort to allow the Chiefs (4-0) to nip the visiting Washington Redskins, 29-20, in a nationally telecast Monday Night Football matchup on ESPN.

Alex Smith has been criticized throughout his 13-year NFL career for his lack of zing with the football. Four weeks into the current season, Smith and his Kansas City Chiefs are the league’s lone unbeaten team.

Smith led a dramatic comeback effort to allow the Chiefs (4-0) to nip the visiting Washington Redskins, 29-20, in a nationally telecast Monday Night Football matchup on ESPN.

The highly entertaining Oct. 2 game helped Americans start the healing process in the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting incident in Las Vegas — the deadliest in modern U.S. history — that claimed the lives of 59 people and injured an estimated 500 individuals.

It was a moment to realize the soothing impact that professional sports can have on the national psyche.

It was important for Americans to get back into the normal swing of things.

“It’s crazy,” Smith, 33, offered in a post-game media conference. “It’s nice to get back to football, (be back) on the field. It’s an escape for a lot of us, certainly as players and fans as well. It’s certainly something we talk about as a culture is to snap back in, sharpen your focus and be in the moment, especially on big stages like this.”

Smith and his teammates dug deep to keep their undefeated season going.

“So many games in the NFL come down to a score and you’re on one side of it,” Smith said in a post-game media conference. “On offense sometimes you have a drive to finish off a game; sometimes you have to go get points to win one. We spend a lot of time in those situations practicing them. We have spent a lot of time working on that stuff. I think the results have paid off for us thus far.”

Trailing early by a score of 10-0, Smith rallied his team with 14 unanswered points. 

The former Helix High School quarterback threw a 17-yard scoring pass to tight end Travis Kelce to get the Chiefs on the scoreboard. Smith later scored on a one-yard run in the third quarter to give the Chiefs a 14-10 lead. 

Smith’s individual highlights continued when he broke off a 32-yard ground gainer after taking control of a mishandled snap to race down the sideline.

“You don’t always get the opportunity to run the football,” Smith said. “There are a lot of ways to show toughness as a quarterback. It’s not overtly running the football and getting tackled. The biggest thing for a quarterback is that mental toughness of you’re getting hit, you’re getting hit, you’re getting hit and not letting that speed up your time clock, not letting it affect you, being able to stand in there and making throws.”

The final minute of the game turned into one of the most exciting in recent memory. 

The Chiefs took a 20-17 lead on a pair of field goals by Harrison Butker before the Redskins tied the game with 50 seconds to play in the fourth quarter on a 40-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins.

The Redskins drove 10 plays in 4:04 to tie the game.

Smith then engineered what proved to be the game-winning drive. 

Starting at his own 25-yard line, Smith passed short to Charcandrick West for four yards. After being flushed out of the pocket, Smith scrambled and threw a pass down field to Albert Wilson for a 37-yard gain to the Washington 35-yard line. 

Smith then passed 10 yards to Chris Conley to the Redskins 24-yard line. 

Smith spiked the ball with eight seconds left to set up a 43-yard field goal attempt by Butker that was good to put the hosts ahead 23-20.

The scoring drive took six plays and covered 50 yards in 43 seconds.

Butker, who missed a 46-yard attempt earlier in the game, was making his first start for the Chiefs after being signed off the practice squad of the Carolina Panthers earlier in the week.

It was Butker’s third field goal of the game.

There was time for one more play, however, and a touchdown resulted in the final four seconds of the game — but for the Chiefs and not the Redskins.

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins passed short right to Jamison Crowder for a loss of seven yards to the 18-yard line. The Redskins attempted to keep the ball alive on a lateral but it was fumbled at the 13-yard line and recovered by Kansas City’s Justin Houston for a game-ending touchdown.

29-20 Chiefs.

Smith finished the game 27-of-37 for 293 yards and one touchdown; he also rushed seven times for 56 yards and one touchdown.

On the season, Smith has completed 76 percent of his passes for 1,067 yards and eight touchdowns without an interception. He currently has a 124.2 quarterback efficiency rating — the best in his career.

KC head coach Andy Reid praised Smith’s resilience — and leadership — in the game.

“He’s a seasoned veteran — I love having this guy,” Reid said. “He’s everything you want as a coach. Comes to work every day. He’s the first one in and the last one out. All the things you want him to do, he does. 

“He keeps a level head. He’s getting a lot of accolades. He got a ton of them last week and came out and played hard-nose football. He stayed patient. He hit the holes. He did a nice job. He took it to the next level, reached down a little deeper. That’s what you want in your team leaders. It’s contagious.”

Kansas City outgained Washington 429 to 331 in net yards.

Kelce made 11 catches for 111 yards; rookie Kareem Hunt rushed 21 times for 101 yards.

Cousins finished 14-of-24 for 220 yards with two touchdowns. Terrelle Pryor (three catches, 70 yards) and Ryan Grant (two catches, 16 yards) each caught touchdown passes while Hopkins booted a pair of field goals.

The Redskins dropped to 2-2.

Smith and the Chiefs will be spotlighted on a national telecast of Sunday Night Football in their next trip to the gridiron when they travel to Houston for an Oct. 8 contest against the Texans (2-2).

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