We can debate what Alex Smith is or isn’t as an NFL quarterback. But on Monday night, when the Kansas City Chiefs needed it, he made the two passes that beat the Washington Redskins.
Washington tied the game 20-20 in the final two minutes. With the pocket collapsing on both sides, Smith escaped the pocket and delivered a great pass to Albert Wilson for 37 yards. Then, still needing more yards to get in field-goal range, Smith placed a perfect pass on a slant route by Chris Conley for 10 more yards. Wilson and Conley aren’t exactly Rice and Taylor, by the way.
That set up Harrison Butker, in his first NFL game, for a game-winning 43-yard field goal. The Chiefs won 29-20 (with Justin Houston scoring a touchdown on the final play as Washington fumbled around laterals to provide the final margin) and are 4-0 to start the season.
This game fit the Chiefs and Smith. It wasn’t aesthetically dominant. It was just a clear victory over a pretty impressive Redskins team. There was no knockout but all three judges had the Chiefs well ahead on their scorecards for a unanimous decision.
There weren’t many big plays, although the Chiefs have proven capable this season to be making those. Smith was basically good enough. He had 293 yards passing and a touchdown and 56 yards rushing and a touchdown. The Chiefs will take that from him every week.
Make no mistake, even though it was at home against a Washington team that flew under the radar all offseason, it was a quality win for the Chiefs. Washington has played well since losing in Week 1 to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Redskins’ defense is legit and Kirk Cousins played well. Had Josh Doctson hauled in a third-down pass in the end zone in the final two minutes, we’d all be talking this week about how good Washington is. Instead, Kansas City is the final undefeated team after four weeks of the NFL season and will be the talk of the NFL. They’ve beat some very good teams, too.
Is Smith a Super Bowl quarterback? Most people would probably say no. He has played well in the playoffs before, a couple times actually. But he has a reputation as a game manager that he won’t shake unless he wins a championship with Kansas City, or at least takes the Chiefs to a Super Bowl.
Maybe this is the year. The Chiefs are the last undefeated team in the NFL. Smith is a big reason for that, especially after a couple of big throws at the end on Monday night.