Knowing he placed the ball where it needed to be and that Maclin beat his defender, Smith lifted his arms and pumped his fist prior to sprinting to celebrate in the end zone with the rest of his teammates.
Smith and Kansas City have had a great deal lately to celebrate about. The Chiefs are riding a winning streak of five games and will face the upstart Oakland Raiders on Sunday in California. The reversal of fortune for the Chiefs has been for the most part due to their quarterback’s play.
Smith through the first six weeks of the season had a 34.4 QBR, which placed him No. 30 amongst the 32 starting NFL quarterback. Of those first six games, Kansas City won just one.
Since then, his QBR is 85.5 and the Chiefs are 5-0. Smith threw for over 200 yards during just the first half of one recent game against San Diego. Against Buffalo last week, he hit three deep balls to Maclin.
Smith has 283 consecutive passes without throwing an interception, which is the fourth longest streak in the history of the league.
He has four straight seasons of over 200 pass attempts with less than 10 interceptions. Only one other quarterback managed that kind of streak in the NFL. From 1991 through 1995, Neil O’Donnell accomplished the feat with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The big plays and big yards are new for the quarterback. He has been getting much more time in the pocket than early this season. He often passed under heavy pressure but his pass protection has vastly improved.
Maclin gives Smith the deep threat and big play threat the Chiefs lacked the past two seasons since he came to Kansas City from San Francisco.
It could be that Smith might never be a passer who makes the big play, as he has tended to be more conservative with his throws during most of his career.
That of course is why he has so few interceptions as well as touchdowns. However, if Smith is able to find a good balance that he has the past five weeks, he and his Chiefs teammates will have much more to celebrate.
Kansas City is back in the race for an AFC wildcard spot. With Smith and Maclin starting to hook up on a regular basis the Chiefs will be a threat to any opponent, they face the final five weeks of the season.