Entering Week 13, it was hard to envision a scenario in which Alex Smith was not the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year.
Even though Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had an 11-0 record and better stats under his belt a year after an elbow injury in 2019, Smith's journey back to the field after a career and life-threatening injury coupled with his recent success in 2020 was too strong of a case to ignore.
Still, if there were any doubters out there, Smith had a chance to solidify his status in a head-to-head matchup with Roethlisberger on Monday. He did just that.
With Smith helping Washington pick up a 23-17 win over the Steelers to end their quest for a perfect season, there should be no more debate around who is the Comeback Player of the Year. It's No. 11.
As mentioned in this piece, Smith already deserved to be the winner before the events that transpired Monday. It's no discredit to Roethlisberger and his impressive season, but what Smith has battled back from is like nothing else. Just him being on the field was a viable reason for him to take home the honor.
If anyone wanted to argue that current performance determines the award, then Smith's recent stretch to help Washington climb back into the thick of the NFC East race helped him in that category.
Now, with him holding the head-to-head advantage over Roethlisberger, the award should be all but a done deal. Smith wasn't exceptional on Monday, but neither was Roethlisberger. Washington's quarterback threw for 296 yards and a score while the Steelers passer threw for 305 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. It did, however, take Roethlisberger 53 pass attempts to reach that tally.
What really matters though is the result. Smith won, and when considering the makeups of the teams, it's even more impressive. Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh were expected to dominate given the 11-0 record coming in, they did not. Outside of the players in Washington, not many gave them a chance to win, but they did.
Even if the quarterbacks don't do it all, they will always be connected to what the final score is. On Monday, Smith was victorious and he proved that he can help his team take down one of the top contenders in the NFL after surviving a gruesome injury. That is Comeback Player of the Year material.
If someone was looking for any other reason to choose Smith, the quarterback also played through a rather large gash on his non-injured leg during the contest. As bad as it looked, it did not phase him. Because at this point, nothing can really slow down Smith from playing football.
If Alex Smith winning the award wasn't already a done deal, it should be now.