All summer, all Alex Smith heard was that his days as Kansas City’s starter were numbered. After all, the Chiefs invested the tenth overall pick in this year’s draft on quarterback Patrick Mahomes, so in many ways, the writing was on the wall.
Smith’s response? He torched the Patriots for 368 yards and four touchdowns last Thursday, spoiling New England’s Super Bowl celebration. The Chiefs outscored the Patriots 21-0 in the fourth quarter and won, 42-27.
Yes, the 33-year-old showed yet again why he might be the most undervalued and under-appreciated player in football – at least from the outside looking in.
“Alex Smith is well-respected on the team, and regardless of things we hear or things that’s out about Alex Smith, I trust Alex,” Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “I’m a defensive player, and the best thing I like about Alex, he does not turn the ball over. That’s golden for a defensive player. Very smart quarterback, very tough, tough-minded guy, been through a lot being a first-round pick. At the same time, man, every time you count him out, he puts his self back in the game by going out and proving it on Sundays. Man, I’m glad he’s my quarterback, so I’m proud of him.”
Johnson is also proud of rookie Kareem Hunt, who had arguably the greatest debut in NFL history. Hunt carried 17 times for 148 yards and a touchdown (8.7 yards per carry) and caught five balls for 98 yards and two touchdowns (19.6 yards per catch).
Not bad for a guy who, until a few weeks ago, was Spencer Ware’s backup.
“Kareem Hunt’s a talented young man,” Johnson said. “Honestly, I can’t say we expected him to do all that. That would be reaching. But did we know he was up for the task? Of course. We’ve seen him a lot already in preseason and during training camp, so we know what he was capable of, but he showed us a little bit more. He’s more of a gamer, and I’m glad we picked him up – a steal in the third round. But Spencer Ware (knee), man, to lose a guy like that who’s a tough runner, that was a big hit for us. But it’s the NFL, so it’s always the next man up, so hats off to Kareem Hunt.”
Smith, Hunt, and the Chiefs (1-0) will go for 2-0 this Sunday at home against the Eagles (1-0). Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.