DeVonta Smith: ‘We couldn’t find a way to stop the bleeding’

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One year ago, Philadelphia wide receiver DeVonta Smith had seven receptions for 100 yards in Super Bowl LVII, but the Eagles still lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 38-35 in the NFL championship game for the 2022 season.  As the 2023 season progressed into December, it appeared the former Alabama All-American and Philadelphia would be back for another try at a Super Bowl victory. The Eagles won 10 of their first 11 games. But Philadelphia won only once in seven more outings.

“It is kind of tough because you think about everything you did in those 12 weeks prior to the downfall, and it wasn’t pretty but we were getting it done,” Smith said during an appearance on NBC Sports’ “Pro Football Talk” on Thursday. “But then it came to a point when we couldn’t get it done, so it’s like: Were we just getting away with it or were we actually going out there and executing the small things that got us where we was?”

Smith’s production actually ticked up during the Eagles’ slide. Smith averaged five receptions for 67.1 yards during the first 11 games of the season, and 5.7 receptions for 79.3 yards during the final seven games, including eight receptions for 148 yards in Philadelphia’s 32-9 season-ending loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the playoffs.

“I just feel like we couldn’t find a way to stop the bleeding,” Smith said. “I feel like everybody still had the goal as the goal. Everybody was still chasing that goal, but we just couldn’t find a way to stop the bleeding. …  “I don’t feel like it was pressure because I feel like guys were still attacking the week the same way. The energy at practice and everything was still good. But we just could not find a way to stop it.”

Kansas City did make it back to the Super Bowl. The Chiefs will play the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII at 5:30 p.m. CST Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. CBS will televise the game.  “It’s hard to get there, and you never know if you’re going to get back,” Smith said, “so you had that one opportunity and you were so close.”

The Eagles played Kansas City and San Francisco during the regular season. Philadelphia defeated the Chiefs 21-17 on Nov. 20 and lost to the 49ers 42-19 on Dec. 3.  In five consecutive games, including those two, the Eagles squared off against teams that went on to make the playoffs.  “It was a tough stretch,” Smith said, “and I think that’s kind of where it started at. Guys were getting fatigued, and not to make an excuse, it’s a long season and you have to find a way get around that, and I just feel like we never got around it.”

Smith had six receptions for 99 yards against Kansas City and nine receptions for 96 yards and one touchdown against San Francisco.  “Two very explosive offenses,” Smith said when assessing Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup. “Having a guy like Patrick Mahomes back there, and then you have Travis Kelce with him, you can never count those guys out. They’ve been there plenty of times.

Coach (Andy) Reid, he’s been there plenty of times, and you can never count those guys out. The moment is never too big for them. The 49ers, having the dynamic offense that they have, (coach Kyle) Shanahan over there, it’s tough when you have that many guys on the offensive side of the ball that’s so explosive.”  Smith’s bottom line on Super Bowl LVIII: “Never bet against Patrick Mahomes.”


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