Since its the offseason, and nothing big (barring a trade, retirement, or release) is going to happen until the start of training camp. Since I love to write about the Chiefs, I’ve had a hard time not posting anything even remotely Chiefs related. So, for your enjoyment, I’ve picked out the ten best games….of Alex Smith’s Kansas City career.
The Chiefs acquired the much-maligned Smith, who led the San Francisco 49ers to the playoffs in 2011, and would have done the same in 2012 had it not been for a concussion and the sudden (albeit brief) success of Colin Kaepernick, giving up second round picks in the 2013 and 2014 NFL drafts in the offseason after the 2012 season.
Since joining the Chiefs, Smith has a 30-16 regular season record, and led the Chiefs to their first playoff victory since 1993.
Now, before you get your hopes up, Smith (and this is very well-documented) is not a gaudy passer. Rather, his best work actually can’t be logged in a book or given fantasy points. His mastery pre-snap and post-snap, yet before the pass, and his leadership, are what make him a winning quarterback, and so essential to the Chiefs championship chase. So, while Smith HAS had some games where he’s put up good passing stats, those aren’t very common.
No. 10: 2014 Week 15, at Pittsburgh:
Smith’s statline: 31-45, 311 yards, 2 rushes, 14 yards
Not every one of Smith’s best games were Kansas City victories, and this game was no exception. Despite pretty good defense (considering who they were going up against), and a season-best day from Smith, the Chiefs lost 20-12 and saw their playoff hopes dwindle. (Smith also missed the following week with a lacerated spleen he suffered in this game). Smith moves the ball down the field very well, but was plagued by ineffective play from his receivers and offensive line, leading to bogged down drives and field goal tries (Of 7 drives, 4 ended in field goals, 1 in a punt, 1 in turnover on downs, and 1 in a fumble).
What made this game even better was that Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles weren’t even the leading receivers (they did combine for 11 catches on 15 targets), but Albert Wilson and De’Anthony Thomas were also heavily favored (14 targets, 12 catches). It’s production like this, with such lacking offensive playmakers, that makes Smith one of this league’s better quarterbacks.
9) 2015 Week 4, at Cincinnati (31-45, 386 yards, 5 rushes, 25 yards):
Another loss, but once again, another game where Smith really stood out. In this case, the Bengals couldn’t stop the Chiefs offense (they outgained Cincy’s offense 461-445), but KC routinely shot itself in the foot and had to settle for field goals (seven from Cairo Santos, a Chiefs record).
Part of the problem? Plays like this:
Another problem was the Chiefs addiction to getting themselves in bad third down situations. On each of their field goal drives, they faced no less than seven yards on the third down try before the field goal. Essentially, play-calling on second down led to predictable third down plays, and the Bengals defense jumped on everything underneath, and with just one proven deep threat, the Chiefs were stuck. That didn’t keep Smith from having an incredible day, one that saw him really connect with Jeremy Maclin (13 targets, 11 catches, 148 yards).
8) 2016 (2015 Season) Wild Card Round, at Houston (17-22, 190 yards, TD, INT, 5-27 rushing):
This wasn’t really even a good game by Smith, but this was a game of significant magnitude for the Chiefs franchise.
Smith didn’t crack 200 yards passing, and while he didn’t have to (Brian Hoyer was picked 4 times, fumbled twice, lost one, and was sacked 3 times), the games below this one were better individual performances. This game was really run, throw to Kelce, run, bring out the special teams, and play relentless defense. Smith managed it to near perfection, and with his demeanor and leadership, he guided the Chiefs to their first playoff win since 1993.
7) 2015 Week 4, New England on Monday Night Football (20-26, 248 yards, 3 TD, 4-8 rushing):
The night before the Royals beat the A’s in the 2014 Wild Card Game, the Chiefs, in a Monday Nighter that saw them set the Guinness World Record for loudest outdoor stadium, dominated this one from start to finish. At the helm of the offense was Smith, who calmly dissected to shreds Bill Belichick’s defense, while Smith’s own defense made the Patriots seem unworthy for peewee leagues, leading to the rare benching of Tom Brady. What made this game critical is Kansas City needed to prove to the nation that they could hang with the league’s best. They passed the test with flying colors, and even did it again later in the year against Seattle. (Interestingly, those two teams saw each other in the Super Bowl)
6) 2016 (2015 season) Divisional Round, at New England (29-50, 246 yards, TD, 9-44 rushing):
No Mitch Morse. No Spencer Ware. A nearly nonexistent Jeremy Maclin. Yet Kansas City came just eight points shy of advancing to the AFC Championship. Smith battled pressure, at times inept protection, and the lack of quality receivers and willed his offense to first downs. Kansas City was down most of the game, but thanks to Smith (and plays like these), they were never out:
No, Kansas City did not win, but they did prove they could hang with the best of the league. The bittersweet portion? All the “if’s.”
5) 2014 Week 6, at San Diego (19-28, 221 yards, TD, 6-29 rushing):
The first of many close games that (stressful) season, the Chargers thought they had forced overtime when Nick Novak’s 48-yard field goal went through with 2:04 left in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 20 apiece.
With quicksand for an offensive line, and no-names for receivers (minus Kelce and Bowe), Smith took the offense 9 plays and 62 yards in under 2 minutes (exactly 1:36) to get Santos in field goal range. 48 yards later, Kansas City led 23-20, and with a Kurt Coleman interception of Philip Rivers on the ensuing possession, the Chiefs secured the first of five consecutive victories.
4) 2015 Week 11 vs. Buffalo (19-30, 255 yards, 2 TD, 6-35 rushing):
Personally, this was my second favorite game from last season. Down 10-0 to a red-hot Bills offense in the second quarter, the Chiefs offense suddenly went aerial. It was like Smith said “to hell with all this, I’m going to win this game.” First, he found Maclin down the right sideline for 37 yards on their first drive of the second quarter (leading to a Spencer Ware touchdown run). Then, on their next possession (after another Buffalo touchdown), it took them just three plays to cut into the lead again. Smith found Maclin on a comeback pattern for 14 yards on the first play, then a 25 yard pass interference on Nickell Robey on a throw intended for Jason Avant. Then, a 41 yard bomb (a thing of beauty) to Maclin on a streak, toasting the rookie cornerback Ronald Darby.
Kansas City would go on to win 30-22, and it proved that the Chiefs, especially Smith, had what it took to win comeback games late in the season.
3) 2013 Week 14, at Oakland (17-20, 287 yards, 5 TD, 4-17 rushing):
Okay, Jamaal Charles had a TON to do with this game, but it isn’t like Charles was throwing to himself. Smith had to sell the screen, and still get it off accurately to Jamaal, but letting him do what he does best. The development of the plays was beautiful to watch, and playing against a hated rival made the victory all the more sweeter. Of the Chiefs 12 drives, seven ended in touchdowns, and Smith guided the offense on each one. Crazier still, this wasn’t even Smith’s highest passing output of that year, which is a perfect segway to…
2) 2013 Week 11, vs. San Diego (26-38, 294 yards, 3 TD, INT):
This game drew tears from many fans, including myself. The Chiefs defense could do absolutely nothing right, yet Smith didn’t flinch once. Despite Dexter McCluster leading the offense in targets and receptions (WOW), Smith led six scoring drives (four in the second half), and should’ve had victory (he connected with Dwayne Bowe from 5 yards out with 1:28 left), but the defense laid down once more and let Seji Ajirotutu (who?) catch the game winning 26-yard streak from Philis Rivers. This was another game from Smith where he didn’t play anything close to that of a “game manager,” and proved to the naysayers he can go score for score with anyone.
1) 2014 (2013 Season) Wild Card Round, at Indianapolis (30-46, 378 yards, 4 TD, 8-47 rushing):
Go ahead, crucify me for once again opening your wounds (sigh).
Often a theme of this list, Smith balled out, and the defense rolled over, leading to a loss. Smith (without Charles after the first quarter, for the those who think he “needs” his running backs to be successful), guided five first half scoring drives and built a 38-10 lead. Unfortunately after that, the floor caved in and Kansas City left Indianapolis losers of a 45-44 game. Still, the unbelievable lack of effort from the defense takes nothing from Alex Smith’s dominance in this game, or at least it shouldn’t. Smith played like an elite quarterback, putting up score after score after score, building a lead even the Jaguars could have maintained. Even when the Colts led, Smith kept on dealing until the very end.
Alex Smith isn’t great. He isn’t elite. He doesn’t throw for 300+ yards every single week. He may never be or do those things, but that wasn’t the point of this piece, to point out how he pales in comparison to Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or Drew Brees. The point was to show just how good Smith really is, how he plays under pressure, and how he wins, and sometimes leads unexpected victories. With everything this franchise has done wrong, trading for Alex Smith was one of the biggest “rights” they’ve made, and it shows in the success we’ve had since he joined the team.
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