Nobody needed to tell Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce how good Alex Smith was in the Chiefs’ 42-27 win over the New England Patriots on Thursday.
But just in case he didn’t know, Kelce’s brother –– Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce –– made sure he told him.
“He was hyping up his boy Alex Smith after that game,” the Philly Kelce said with a laugh.
The Alex Smith hype train continued Wednesday, as Smith –– on the heels of one of the best performances of his career –– was chosen as the AFC offensive player of the week. Turns out that’s what happens when you become just the second quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions against the Patriots since Bill Belichick took over in 2000, as Smith did Thursday, joining Drew Brees (who did it for New Orleans in 2009).
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But if you think Smith, a 13-year veteran, jumped for joy when his coaches informed him of the honor at the Chiefs’ practice facility Wednesday morning, think again.
“If it had been a couple days ago, maybe,” said Smith, 33. “But you had some time to relax, and yeah, OK, certainly it’s nice. But at this point, I feel like preparation has already begun on the Eagles.”
Smith has reason to turn the page quickly. The NFL is a day-to-day, week-to-week league, which means the collective memories of everyone –– coaches, fans, teammates, media –– is short.
“You play long enough, you realize how quick things can change,” Smith explained. “I mean, one week everybody’s raving about you. And quickly, it can flip if you drink the Kool Aid. I think you’ve got to be careful with that a little bit.”
When asked if he’s seen or experienced this first hand, Smith grinned.
“I’ve certainly seen teams where yeah, they play really good and they’re feeling so good about themselves and walk into the next week and get smacked in the mouth,” Smith said. “Definitely seen that.”
So it’s on to Philadelphia, the Chiefs’ Week 2 opponent, though Smith does so with some prestige in his back pocket. This marks the first time Smith, the Chiefs’ quarterback since 2013, has won the award as a member of the organization, and the second time overall. The last time came as a member of the San Francisco 49ers in 2012, when he completed 18 of 19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns in a 24-3 win over Arizona.
Smith’s performance against the Patriots, however, was more impressive. He completed 28 of 35 passes for 368 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions while outdueling future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady.
With the honor, Smith –– whose 368 passing yards led the league in Week 1 –– also joins Joe Montana (1993) and Steve Bono (1995) as the only Chiefs to win the award in Week 1 of the season.
“Offensively, in crucial situations, we executed well and that made the difference,” Smith said. “That’s a lot to playing quarterback, right? The big moments, third down, red zone, two minute, all those situations, you’ve got to be good, and those change games.”
Smith checked lots of those boxes Thursday. He was rock-solid against the blitz, completing 8-of-10 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns in those situations, and even proved he could stretch the field vertically by completing three of four passes that traveled 20 or more yards in the air for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
But Smith, true to form, also gave credit to his offensive line for giving him the time to connect downfield.
“They were awesome,” Smith said. “A lot of those plays –– especially to Kareem (Hunt) down the middle –– we’re asking a lot of our offensive line, and to give that kind of time for that play to develop, on a play that does take a little time, was big. All that stuff starts with those guys up front.”
But those guys up front weren’t trying to hear it. Like many of Smith’s teammates, they were happy for their quarterback and ready to brag about him after his big performance on the big stage.
“It’s amazing –– a testament to the preparation Alex puts in each week,” center Mitch Morse said. “It a sliver of what he can do when given time.”