Chiefs QB Alex Smith Thrived in Crunch Time on Sunday

Smith’s game-winning touchdown was the perfect ending to historic game

The noise outside of the locker room after Sunday's historic comeback win was audible enough for the dozens of people standing just outside the door to hear it clearly.

The Kansas City Chiefs had just pulled off the greatest comeback in franchise history, having trailed the San Diego Chargers by 21 points midway through the third quarter only to respond with 17 unanswered in the final 9:18 to force the game into overtime.

The players were loud, excited and couldn't wait for their leader, quarterback Alex Smith, to join them in celebrating.

Smith, like most quarterbacks, is often the last player to get to the locker room because they're handling obligations on the field after the game.

When Smith did finally get to the locker room, the roars got even louder.

"I have the utmost respect for [Alex Smith]," Spencer Ware, who provided a spark for the team himself, said after the game. "We have the right guy at the right position. I'm just glad to have him."

When the pressure was at its highest, Smith came through for his team.

Through the first 38:58 of the game of Sunday's game, Smith had completed 10 of 16 passes for 101 yards, and the Chiefs were trailing 24-3.

In the final 26:09, Smith completed 24 of 32 for 262 yards with 3 touchdowns (1 rushing). He led the offense back from a 21-point second-half deficit to preserve the team's 11-game regular season winning streak.

"The big thing is not to panic," right tackle Mitch Schwartz explained of how the team fought back. "Alex (Smith) told us, 'There is no 17-point play. We are not going to get it all at one time. Take it one play at a time and do your job.'"

Smith did his job, and then some.

On the final two offensive drives for the Chiefs—when it mattered the most—Smith completed 7 of 8 passes for 74 yards and led the offense to two touchdowns.

"There's a lot of emotion there at the end of the game to comeback the way we did," Smith explained after the game. "With that, I think every guy in there knows how bad we played, how poorly we played in the first half and you're not going to get away with it all the time.

"Certainly some things in the second half went our way, we were able to get out of here with a 'W,' but as great as it is to win, there's going to be a lot to learn from, a lot to improve on."

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On the final play of the game, which should bring back memories of his days at the University of Utah, Smith ran a speed option to the right on third-and-goal from the 2-yard line and was able to find a lane for a touchdown.

"It was a look they had been playing all day," Smith explained of the Chargers defense on that final play. "They'd had success with it, a lot of success, they'd run it on a bunch of third downs. I just got a good look down there on third and two and I was able to take advantage and convert. The offensive line did a great job of giving me a hole."

Head coach Andy Reid said after the game that Smith checked out of the original play on that final touchdown, which gave the Chiefs their sixth straight AFC West divisional win and their fifth straight over the Chargers.

"He has final say on everything out there," Reid explained of Smith after the game. "He's got the ball in his hand."

Smith, who was a little fired up after the game, said he had to hold it in while the officials were reviewing the final play.

"Everybody was kind of going nuts, and I was just literally like, 'I know they're reviewing it,' and I didn't want to start celebrating," Smith recalled. "Then, when he finally said, 'Touchdown,' after he reviewed it, yeah, I definitely lost it."

"For one, crazy comeback, a lot of emotions, and then, a play like that on third down, it was fun to be a part of."

Reid spoke on Monday about what Smith means to that locker room.

"He's one of the most well-respected guys on the team," Reid explained. "You saw the love for him when he came (in the locker room). That was obvious. They're happy for him. Not only did he have a big day, but he was able to score that last touchdown, in which he called—that check he put on—to win the game.

"He's a humble guy on top of that, so everybody pulls for him and they know what he's been through. He kept his head high and took the high road with things, during the tough times."

More than anything else, Reid saw Smith elevate the play of the guys around him.

"You see that with the great quarterbacks," Reid explained. "They make everybody around them better and you saw that yesterday with Alex. I would match his second half with anybody that I've been around and seen in this league. He made some phenomenal plays."

Postgame facts and stats from the Chiefs Week 1 win over the San Diego Chargers

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