A gruesome leg injury took quarterback Alex Smith off the field and a gruesome leg injury brought him back.
Washington’s Kyle Allen dislocated his ankle Sunday when Giants safety Jabrill Peppers blitzed, was cut block as he bull-rushed the running back, lost his balance and whipped his leg into a scrambling Allen’s knee, causing the quarterback’s leg and ankle to twist in an unnatural position.
“We all have a pact in this league,” Peppers said. “Guys have come from different circumstances, guys have worked hard to get here, so you never want to see a guy go down like that. I prayed for him. I apologized to him. I definitely didn’t intend for that to happen. I’m trying to play hard and make a play for my team. I wish him a speedy recovery.”
Peppers was penalized for roughing the passer, but Washington coach Ron Rivera didn’t have an issue.
“I don’t think it’s a dirty play,” Rivera said after a 23-20 loss.
Smith replaced Allen late in the first quarter and completed 24 of 32 passes for 325 yards and his first touchdown pass in 721 days. It was Smith’s second game action since Nov. 18, 2018, when he suffered a broken leg that ultimately required 17 surgeries and nearly required amputation after infection spread, as chronicled in ESPN’s “Project 11” documentary.
“A ton of emotions going on for me right then in the sense that I knew Kyle was down and I knew it was pretty serious,” Smith said. “You snap into grabbing your helmet and getting ready to roll, and all of a sudden you see them bring out the air cast and the cart — and I know that routine well.”
Smith came off the bench once earlier this season to test his leg against contact and will be Washington’s starter in Allen’s absence next week as 2019 first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins remains a backup.
The 68-yard touchdown connection between Smith and Terry McLaurin — who was at Ohio State when the injury happened — was one of the NFL’s feel-good moments of the day. Smith also threw three interceptions, including two in the final three minutes when a field goal would’ve tied the game.
“It always feels good to throw a touchdown,” Smith said through a smile. “It had been a really long time.”
Smith might like the touchdown ball as a keepsake, but he has “no idea” where it wound up.
“I’m enjoying so much every single day,” Smith said. “I feel like I’ve continued to progress and I’m so thankful for that. This is another step. I’m incredibly bummed for Kyle … but I go full-steam ahead. I’m going to run with this opportunity and make the most of it.”
Allen is the second NFC East starting quarterback to go down against the Giants. Dallas Cowboys star Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending compound fracture of the ankle when he was tackled by Logan Ryan on Oct. 11.
Allen reportedly will undergo an MRI exam on Monday.
“Everything happened so fast,” Peppers said. “It was a weird play.”