BY CRAIG STEWART
That moment everyone thought that was impossible in Alex Smith’s career, certainly didn’t felt impossible losing 24 to 3 in the third quarter on a beautiful afternoon in the Chiefs’ opening game.
Careers are made in seconds, between all the violence,and when Smith saw the defender play the pitch he tucked and went in for the goal line, a dozen years in the NFL making him well aware that he was now less of a quarterback than he was before. The Chiefs’ quarterback heard “touchdown” over the loudspeaker and the hundreds of fans in the stadium. He got hyped and celebrated with his teammates. But, modern NFL means no celebration is official until further review.
Like everyone else in the stadium he watched the replay, but he couldn’t tell if he made it and waited for the official to confirm what everyone left from a sold out crew hoped to be true. He hoped that the quarterback who couldn’t come back had just finished the greatest comeback in Chiefs history with a 33-27 overtime win against the Chargers. Those few seconds were absolute chaos, Chiefs players and coaches swarming each other in what appeared to be a mini mosh pit. Smith who shows really no emotions at all screamed, raised his hands, swarmed the photographers, his finest single moment in four years with the Chiefs. “Definitely lost it” Smith said.
The most anticipated and promising Chiefs season in at least a decade began in as wild, confounding, agonizing, and ultimately inspiring way possible. It was basically their 2015 season from 1-5 to a playoff win played out in game form. There are any number of ways to quantify how unlikely this all was. The empty seats were a clue, at least one-third of fans leaving sometime between halftime and a rally from 21 points down that took a series of twists you wouldn’t believe in a movie.
Using Pro Football Reference’s win probability calculator, there was a point in the fourth quarter the Chiefs were less likely to win than the Royals’ low point in the 2014 Wild Card Game. Neither Smith or the Chiefs have ever seen anything quite like this. It’s the biggest comeback since the franchise was born, and the first time the Chiefs have won with Smith leading a late touchdown drive that broke a tie or erased a deficit. He is Captain Checkdown, not Captain Comeback, and now tired “game manager” may start to disappear. Smith is 3-40-1 when his opponent scores 24 or more points, and just for context that win percentage (.069) is around one-third as well as all teams did last year (.211).