Steve Smith got the best of his former team on Sunday night.
The Eagles wide receiver -- playing in his former home stadium for the first time since leaving New York -- caught a 14-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter of his team’s 17-10 victory over the Giants.
“It’s like the cherry on top of a win,” Smith said, “to be able to make a play and contribute, and especially against my old team.”
Smith denied an ESPN.com report that stated he’d have interest in re-joining the Giants at the end of the season if the opportunity presented itself. Prior to signing a one-year, incentive-laden deal with the Eagles, which could be worth up to $3 million, in the offseason, the 26-year-old had expressed his desire to remain with the Giants, but it didn’t work out.
“I don’t know where that came from,” Smith said. “I’m an Eagle, and I’m worried about winning next week.”
Giants fans had been upset with the organization for failing to reach an accord with Smith, who had a single-season franchise-record 107 receptions in 2009. But he suffered a season-ending knee injury the following year, and the Giants didn’t believe he’d be able to have the same impact on the field as a result.
Through the first 10 games of the 2011 season, the Giants have been absolutely right. Victor Cruz has emerged as a more-than-capable replacement for Smith in the slot, while Smith hasn’t returned to form after undergoing micro-fracture surgery last December.
Granted, he’s shown flashes. Sunday night’s TD-catch was just the latest example.
It was only his 11th reception all season -- and the only one he’d make all game-long -- but it gave the Eagles a 10-0 lead with 1:22 remaining in the first half.
“It was just a regular standard drag route,” Smith said. “I think they got lost in coverage because I caught it and no one was round.”
His former teammate, linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, was the culprit.
“I was wondering who was on me, because it seemed like nobody was, so that’s funny,” Smith said.
Smith hasn’t had much to laugh about in 2011. But he could certainly laugh about this.
“You know, we’ve been underachieving the whole year,” Smith said, “and we felt like [Sunday night] we finally kind of put it together and made some plays at the ned of the game when we needed to.”
His coach was elated for him.
“There’s nothing better from a player standpoint than being able to come back and do something like that,” Andy Reid said. “Especially at a place where he had so much success.”