Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff turned in a solid performance on Sunday, throwing for over 300 yards and accounting for three total touchdowns in a blowout road victory over the Washington Football Team.
But following the game at his postgame presser, the first question asked to Goff was about the quarterback on the other sideline. Washington's Alex Smith replaced Kyle Allen in the second quarter, the final step in a remarkable, nearly two-year recovery from a leg injury that almost cost Smith his life.
When asked about Smith, Goff said he was blown away by the determination and will from the Washington QB.
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"That is truly one of the most amazing things -- not only we have ever seen but I think in football history -- is [Smith] getting back from that injury and coming back," Goff said. "The respect I have for him and just the way he goes about his business, my interactions with him have always been awesome. He's a great guy and deserves everything."
When Smith originally suffered the injury, many thought his NFL career was done. After all, Smith needed 17 surgeries to recover from the injury, losing most of the muscle in his leg due to an infection from the original procedure.
Despite being in his mid-30s and having 14 seasons of NFL experience under his belt, Smith was determined not to have his career end on that note. His ability to fight back from the injury and fully recover is what impressed Goff the most.
"You look at a guy who's made however much money in his career, in Year 16 towards the end of his career, to want to come back from an injury like that, want to come back from potentially almost losing his leg and come back out and play today," Goff said. "I said in our postgame, we'll be able to tell people forever that I watched that and saw that happen. I'm extremely happy for him and hoping for the best for him."
Goff wasn't the only one on the Rams sideline who was impressed with the feat Smith accomplished on Sunday.
Rams head coach Sean McVay was asked about Smith postgame as well, and only had great things to say about the veteran QB.
"Even just watching him warm-up, it's incredible what he's overcome," McVay said.
Smith's ability to move in the pocket and take a hit was quickly put to the test once he entered the game. On his first possession, All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald was able to escape into the Washington backfield and bring down Smith for a sack.
McVay, like almost everyone else, held his breath when Smith was taken down, hoping he didn't get injured again after everything he's been through. Thankfully, Smith was fine.
"You don't ever want to see a guy get injured," McVay said. "I hate seeing injuries anyways, but especially when you look at something that this guy has overcome to even be in that position. Just the respect is through the roof. I'm just so impressed with him."
While Smith's return by itself is remarkable, the quarterback was unable to establish any sort of rhythm on offense. The Rams defense dominated the Washington offensive line. Smith was sacked six times in just over two quarters of play.
McVay was pleased by the effort from his defense but said postgame he almost wishes Smith's return to NFL action came with a little bit better of conditions.
"To be in a situation where he's competing and moving in the pocket and make some plays off schedule, you almost wish for him as a football fan if it was in a little bit better of conditions as far as being able to throw and catch a little bit more easily than some of those elements entailed," McVay said. "It's weird saying that when it was our defense that made it very difficult. Just impressive by him."