Sometimes in the world of sports you get the opportunity to witness the breakout performance of a potential superstar. That exactly what I saw on Sunday night. A young talented receiver caught more than passes in Dallas. Steve Smith caught my eye. Sunday night in front of 110,000 plus in Dallas, Smith had 10 receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown.
What you mat not realize is that it was Smith who set the tone and the pace of the game. Smith had a 32 yard reception on the first offensive play of the game. Everyone in the nation expected the Giants to come out and smash the ball with Brandon Jacobs. The went to the air and Smith was the spark that ignited the offense.
It became clear that Smith is Eli Manning’s favorite target in a crunch situation. Smith was targeted 7 times on 3rd downs. Don’t forget about him accounting for five 1st downs, and being a big reason that the Giants where able to move the chains and stay on the field offensively. In the 4th quarter alone Smith had 5 receptions for 53 yards and a score.
Smith is becoming an elite wide receiver right before your eyes. He may not be the most physically gifted receiver, but watch this man work. He is the hardest working receiver in football while the game is on. Smith goes at 100 % every play. His routes are some of the cleanest in the NFL, he breaks hard toward the ball after his cuts and creates separation from the defender.
I have watched this guy grow and develop over the last 3 seasons and in my honest opinion, he reminds me of Cris Carter. Smith will never be the game breaker, but he will be the guy that makes the money catch.
Two games into the season Smith has 16 receptions for 214 yards and 9 1st downs, when the margin is 7 points or less. What that tells me is that Smith is the guy Manning trusts. More evidence to support that is the fact that Smith has 7 receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown in the 4th quarter. Smith has accounted for 4 first downs and two 20+ yard receptions in the 4th quarter as well. Steve Smith is fast becoming Eli Manning’s favorite target.
Smith very well could be a Pro Bowl performer in 2009. I look for Smithto total over 90 receptions, with 1,200+ yards and 6-8 touchdowns this season. No longer is he the other Steve Smith, he is however the best receiver in the NFC East. By seasons end he may well be one of the top 3 receivers in the NFC period.