Somehow he had returned to Washington this year. Somehow he had played part of a game against the Rams a few weeks ago, and just entering the field that day in Washington had finished one. of the most inspiring stories of the year.
Now, somehow, he was close to completing a miracle comeback against the Giants. The WFT was behind 20-3. They had been upgraded all day. Smith was only in the game because Washington starter Kyle Allen suffered an ankle injury that seemed only slightly less haunting and nauseating than Smith at 10 days ago two years ago.
“We know Alex Smith,” Giants coach Joe Judge would later say. “We know what he’s capable of.”
The Redskins had the ball. They had momentum. They had the fairy tale. And then a strange thing happened:
The fairy tale has changed.
And what emerged in its place was another, this one tinged with blue instead of burgundy, this one co-written by Jabrill Peppers (whose leg whip inadvertently injured Allen and set up the Smith’s story book) and Logan Ryan, culminating a week for Ryan who could have been his own Lifetime Network special.
“Winning is a mentality,” Ryan said when that threshing 23-20 victory was on the books for good. “We played like winners there. It wasn’t perfect.
It was pretty perfect. First there was Peppers, with the Redskins sitting perhaps five yards away to try for an even basket just before the two-minute warning. He’d landed a bad pass from Smith that had ticked off JD McKissic’s fingertips, sniffing a workout that, by that point, had been 10 games and 49 yards of impending doom.
“It shouldn’t have been so close at first,” Peppers was saying, shaking his head. “We had a lot of headless plays to get them into position.”
Peppers had also been stuck in Allen earlier in the game, and as he watched the WFT quarterback come off the pitch he felt sick to his heart.
“We all have a pact in this league,” Peppers said. “Guys come from different circumstances and you never want to see a guy fall like that. I prayed for him and apologized to him. You never want that to happen.
But Smith got a mulligan when the Giants quickly made it three-plus. Honestly, the key moment of the game may have come 2 minutes and 10 seconds to go, the Giants facing third and sixth, Daniel Jones crushed on his blind side by Kamren Curl of Washington.
For Giants fans who have witnessed Jones’ love / hate relationship for two years with possession of the ball, the game must have felt like a super-slo-mo, must look like they’re all united. to channel Apollo Creed manager Duke Evers to the top. volume:
But Jones kept the ball. The giants have launched. Smith retrieved the bullet, his pen freshly filled with enough ink to write a proper ending – or at least force overtime. On the second and sixth he looked shallow, then saw something a few yards further uphill.
What he didn’t see was Ryan.
Ryan was there in a way because Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham installed a new look when the team visited on Saturday. He was there in a more ethereal sense because Giants coach Justin Maher had urged his wife to go to hospital after suffering from severe stomach pain. There she underwent emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy.
Logan played the game with Ashley’s name on his cleats and the desire to bring him back a ball. So he got a bullet. He snatched Smith’s pass in the air with 1:15 to go. Ballgame over.
Fairy tale revised completed.
“We were done making it short,” Ryan said.
Not this time. Not this week. There were plenty of Giants who enjoyed the reward of a second win in nine games. The judge kept Golden Tate at home, further punishment for his selfish behavior Monday night; In his place, rookie Auston Mack caught four balls for 72 yards, improving his career tally to five and 73. Justice served by the judge.
“For us,” said the coach, “the whole message was this: finish.
This time, that’s exactly what they would do. With a nice ending to boot.