This week's edition of "Upon Further Review" – like most week's inside looks – combines what has happened the previous week to how it applies to the next week's game. Anyone who saw the demolition of the Vikings by the Panthers knows what the focal point of the game was – Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith beating, humiliating and schooling Fred Smoot. But, Upon Further Review, it was a combination of things that led to Smith's record-setting day.
As always, we take it from the top and see how a snowball turned into an avalanche.
* On the first drive of the game, Smoot has been given no safety help on passing situations. He has been told to shut down Smith however he can. On the first pass of the day to Smith, he sells a post route and turns Smoot around on an out route. Jake Delhomme drops in a perfect pass and Smith gains 30 yards. On the next play, the Panthers score the games first points.
* Later in the quarter, Smoot is left on an island by a safety blitz and, in an effort to slow Smith down in the chuck zone, he gets flagged for a hands to the face penalty.
* In that same drive, Smoot plays 10 yards off Smith, who runs a five-yard out route. Smoot closes quickly and stops the play short of a first down and forces a punt – grading out well in the first quarter except for the one long pass.
* Smoot has good coverage – at first – on what turns into a 69-yard bomb to Smith. However, maybe unconvinced that Delhomme can complete a bomb of that length, Smoot looks back at the quarterback while Smith continues to run on a go route. Smith gets 10 yards of separation as a result and makes the catch to the Vikings 1-yard line – where the Panthers score on the next play.
* The Panthers have figured out that Smith has Smoot's number and are merciless in the final five minutes of the first half. A pass intended for Smith sails high, but Smoot holds on to Smith beyond the five-yard contact zone and is whistled for defensive holding.
* Smoot lines up 10 yards from the line and the Panthers call a silent audible to Smith – a one-step drop that gets negated when both Smoot and Smith are called for facemask penalties.
* On his next reception, Smoot had nothing to do with a 20-yard reception by Smith. With the team playing a zone, Smith lines up on the right side and crosses over the middle and, in keeping with his coverage responsibility, Smoot leaves Smith and provides backside coverage on another Panther receiver running a route in his zone. Nobody picks up Smith crossing the field and he makes the catch for a 20-yard gain.
* Once again, Smoot is playing 10 yards off of Smith, who runs a three-yard route and stops. Delhomme delivers the pass on timing and Smith makes the catch and skips out of bounds with a six-yard gain.
* Smith lines up on the left side and sells that he his going to the sidelines. He catches Smoot in a backpedal and cuts sharply to his right. Delhomme times the pass perfectly for his cut and, with a clear throwing lane thanks to the 3-4 defense that doesn't have a body over the left tackle, Smith makes the easy catch for a touchdown.
* On a third-and-9 play, Smoot gets beaten off the line, but makes up ground as Delhomme is hit as he throws. Smith makes an impressive adjustment and makes an unlikely one-handed catch with Smoot draped all over him. While the play could have been disastrous if drawn up as a go route, Smith's athleticism turns an incompletion into a 24-yard gain – no fault of Smoot's.
* Again playing 10 yards off of Smith, Delhomme throws a one-step drop to Smith that, as Smoot tries to make a tackle for a short game, is stiff-armed away and the play gains 11 yards.
* Back in press coverage at the line, Smith gives Smoot a look inside and has him beat. As Smoot adjusts to the route, Smith pushes back outside. Knowing he will be burned with no help at the side of the field, Smoot gets called for holding – a bad play, but one that likely prevented a long gain or even a touchdown.
* Again in press coverage, Smoot is within the five-yard zone when Delhomme is hit and fumbles for an apparent turnover. But, in an attempt to stop an inside move, Smoot comes up with hands to the face and grabs Smith's facemask, making the penalty call by the officials too glaring to pass up.
In the end, Smith put in a career game. Smoot had his lunch handed to him, but Upon Further Review, it wasn't all his fault – it was more of a matter of Smith using his speed to beat bump-and-run coverage from an overconfident Smoot and, when Smoot was forced to play 10 yards off of him, burning him with one-step drop screen passes.
Upon Further Review
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