With the Washington Football Team trailing the New York Giants by three points late in the fourth quarter, there were two separate drives that could have either tied the game or taken a late lead.
Both ended the exact same way: On Alex Smith interceptions.
Smith's first fourth-quarter pick came with Washington facing a third-and-10 from New York's 40-yard line with 2:23 remaining in the game. The Giants' pressure got to Smith, who fired a high strike off his back foot to running back J.D. McKissic.
McKissic was only able to get a finger on the pass. The ball was tipped directly to New York safety Jabrill Peppers.
"For me, I saw J.D. and I kind of escaped there and tried to get it to him as fast as possible," Smith said. "The ball was high and inaccurate. Just a better football there and we have a chance for a first down, or certainly points, if it doesn't come out high. For me, we just need a better football, more accurate."
After Washington's defense forced a three-and-out, Smith and the offense had another chance taking over with one timeout and 1:48 remaining in the contest.
But on Washington's second play of the ensuing drive, Smith's pass over the middle was late to wide receiver Terry McLaurin. Giants cornerback Logan Ryan was in the right place at the right time and hauled in the pass for Smith's third interception of the game.
The Giants would kneel out the remainder of the clock for their second win of the season - both coming against Washington.
"The last [interception], two minute [offense], you're trying to make a play, I just felt like I was late," Smith said. "I had a chance to throw that on time, and if you double clutch it, any good defense is going to make you pay. I either needed to keep moving through my progressions or throw that football on time."
Smith was disappointed in himself, saying he made a basic mistake that every quarterback knows they can't make.
"That's one where I obviously feel like I'm better than that and certainly capable of making that play," Smith said. "You can't throw it late over the middle, obviously. That's quarterbacking 101."
The veteran quarterback showed plenty of promise in three-plus quarters taking over for an injured Kyle Allen. He finished 24-of-32 for 325 yards, the most he's thrown as a Washington QB, and connected with McLaurin on a 68-yard touchdown. But, it was his two fourth-quarter INTs that stand out the most from this contest.
After the game, head coach Ron Rivera said Smith will be Washington's starter next week, with second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins serving as the backup.
"I was very pleased. It was exciting to watch him get out there and see the things he did, to control the tempo the way he did." Rivera said. "It's unfortunate with the interceptions. He tried to make things happen, he tried to force things and unfortunately, bad things happened this time."
Smith knows he has to be better moving forward and is eager for that challenge next week against a struggling Detroit Lions team.
"I'm enjoying every single day and I've continued to progress and get better," Smith said. "I'm thankful for that. It's another step. For me, I'm going full steam ahead. I'm not thinking about any other stuff. I'm going to run with this opportunity."