By the start of the fourth quarter Sunday, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith had been sacked five times by Miami’s formidable pass-rush, and he’d even committed a critical fumble that led to a touchdown.
But for all the harassment Smith received from the Dolphins, who even threw an eight-man blitz at him at one point, Chiefs center Rodney Hudson insists he could not tell a difference in his quarterback’s positive demeanor.
“Sometimes he gets hit (but) he continues to sit in there,” Hudson said. “That’s what we appreciate … his attitude is the same, upbeat in the huddle. He gives us confidence.”
Hudson said this was particularly true during the final quarter, when the Chiefs scored 13 points and pulled away from the Dolphins in their 34-15 win at Sun Life Stadium.
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“He was telling us we need to get it,” Hudson said. “He was excited about it and we were, too. We felt his energy.”
Smith completed 19 of 25 passes (76 percent) for 186 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. In the fourth quarter, he completed six of seven passes for 40 yards and a touchdown as he supplemented a running game that pounded away at the Dolphins’ defensive front.
“The O-line (was) finishing them off,” said Smith, who recently signed a four-year, $68 million extension to stay in Kansas City. “I thought those guys played great, played physical. They had a tough job today and I thought they really finished it.”
Smith would know. Led by fearsome defensive ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon, not to mention powerful defensive tackles Jared Odrick and Randy Starks, Smith felt it whenever the offensive line bent. He was sacked for a safety once, and the fumble he committed at the start of the third quarter on a sack led to Miami cutting the Chiefs’ lead to 14-10.
“You just keep hacking away,” Hudson said. “Sometimes they get you. This is a team that pressures a lot in gotta-have-it situations. We got backed up, and if you get backed up, they send people. We knew that.”
Smith was sacked three times on third down, with another sack (the safety) coming when they were backed up on their own 1-yard line. But the Chiefs managed to get their shots in on third down, too — they converted nine of 16 third-down attempts, five on passing plays and four on running plays.
That’s a 56 percent clip, better than the 42 percent they were averaging on third downs through their first two games.
“I think we were better on third downs,” Smith said. “We were better on first and second down and didn’t put ourselves in big holes.
“You can see, especially with a defense like that, if you put yourself in third and 8, 9, 10, it’s a long day. They’re really good up front, they’re really talented and they’re at home. When you put yourselves in third and medium, they have to play the run and the pass, and that’s where you want to be.”
Smith learned this lesson the hard way on a few occasions on Sunday. But Chiefs head coach Andy Reid never lost faith in his big-money quarterback, and when the time came for it, Smith and the rest of the offense managed to string together enough positive plays to pull away in the end.
“(I have) full trust in Alex running and commandeering this football team during the game,” Reid said. “He does nothing but make plays for us and get people in the right positions and try to be the coach on the field, which is important.
“He calms these situations that seem a little chaotic. He just calms it right down and keeps it right and that’s hard to find. We’re lucky to have him in Kansas City.”