Rivera only freaked out about Alex Smith's bloody leg momentarily


Late in the second quarter of Washington's victory over Pittsburgh, Football Team quarterback Alex Smith took a cleat to the shin, causing his leg to bleed profusely.

Watching from the sidelines, head coach Ron Rivera -- like many others -- began to freak out. Thoughts immediately went to the 17 surgeries Smith has undergone on his right leg over the past two years, and all the work the quarterback has done to return to football.

While the coach began to worry, his quarterback remained calm. Why? Because the gash was on Smith's left leg, not his surgically repaired right one.

Once Rivera found that out, the head coach had no worries about Smith anymore, either.

"I did [freak out] a little bit at first. I thought it was maybe his right leg," Rivera said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay.

"I thought 'OK, he probably got a shin gash.' I had those when I played," Rivera continued. "You get stepped on, somebody nicks you will the bottom of their cleat and it scratches you and you bleed. I've had that."

Rivera, who was a linebacker on the historic '85 Bears, knows plenty about toughness. Knowing Smith and the competitor he is, the head coach had no doubts his QB would play through the gash on his leg.

"My initial reaction was like a father, 'Oh my gosh.' Then I realized it was his left leg, and the former player [in me] kicked in," Rivera said. "'Shoot, I had that.' I had one about four inches on my shin. It bled. But, they came in and wrapped it, bandaged it up and took care of me."


The same happened for Smith, as he ended up getting his leg wrapped up by trainers. Remarkably, Smith never even missed a play. 

Once Smith got his left leg wrapped up, Rivera didn't worry about the passer's leg at all.

"The trainers came out and took care of it, and then I didn't worry about it because I had that," Rivera said. "That's kind of what I figured what would happen."

Smith ended up playing one of his best games since arriving in Washington, finishing with 296 passing yards and one touchdown in a 23-17 victory over the Steelers.

"Each and every week, I'm making the most of it, living like it's my last and enjoying that mindset," Smith said postgame, reflecting on his journey. "I'm not looking beyond literally that next start and trying to take advantage of it with everything I got and enjoy it."