LANDOVER, MD – DeVonta Smith prepares himself to be in position where he can beat any defender, anytime and anywhere. That's the work ethic and mindset of a star wide receiver, so even if it looks like he's covered, or if it may seem like a catch can't be made, Smith loves to prove otherwise. Sunday, in a 24-8 win over Washington, Smith did prove otherwise.
He made a series of sensational catches on the way to an eight-reception, 169-yard, one-touchdown game as the Eagles' passing game produced three plays of 40-plus yards and a total of six completions that gained 20-plus yards. That big-play approach gashed Washington's defense, and Smith was in a starring role.
His 45-yard catch down the right sideline on a perfectly thrown Jalen Hurts pass over Smith's right shoulder was incredible – Smith contorted his body and somehow made the grab and the officials ruled that he got both feet down – the Commanders threw the challenge flag too late, after the hurry-it-up offense astutely ran the next play quickly – and the catch led to the first points of the game, a 32-yard Jake Elliott field goal.
"I felt like I got my feet down, but I'll have to watch the film and see for sure," Smith said afterward, smiling as he finished his group media interviews. "I just reached out and caught it. You work on making those tough catches and when you make them, they feel great."
Smith made another great catch late in the first half, leaping high and coming down with a 44-yard Hurts pass between two Washington defenders to give the Eagles a first-and-goal play at the Commanders' 1-yard line. Smith landed hard on the play and left the game for a snap, but he returned in time to finish the half in style.
On fourth-and-goal from the 2, with no timeouts remaining and with the clock winding down, Hurts threw a pass in the back of the end zone for Smith, who reached over the defender to make the catch for a touchdown on the final play of the half. Elliott's PAT gave the Eagles a commanding – pun intended – 24-0 lead heading into the third quarter.
"We practice situations where the clock is winding down and it's just 'find a way and make a play.' That's not in our game plan right there," Smith said. "Whenever Jalen throws it to me, I expect to catch it. That's my mindset. I'm out there to make plays and do my job."
After not having a catch in the opening-day win at Detroit, Smith has been on fire in victories over Minnesota and Washington. In those two games, he has 15 receptions for 249 yards and a touchdown. He and A.J. Brown (5 receptions, 85 yards at Washington, 20-309-1 on the season) have been too much for defensive backs to handle.
"We have been clicking for periods at a time, but we need to put it all together," Smith said. "We know what we have here and we know we can do a lot when we've got it going. It's exciting, but it's just a start. We have a lot of football to play and we have a lot of improving to do."