Smith's Actions Vs. Chiefs Speak Volumes
Anwar Richardson, The Tampa Tribune, published 8 November 2004

Dwight Smith spoke up this week about wanting to be more involved in defensive schemes. Smith rarely has the opportunity to play an opponent man-to-man in Tampa Bay's Cover 2 defense. When Smith discovered he was not going to cover Kansas City's Pro Bowl tight end, Tony Gonzalez, man-to-man, he voiced his frustration.

When it was time for Smith to speak up on the field Sunday, his impact was heard louder than anything said during the week. Smith forced a fumble and an interception (with a blitz), and had a pick in Tampa Bay's 34-31 victory against Kansas City. ``I try to come out and do all I can. If I can't make plays or hits in the game, I try to hustle and make my team feel my energy and keep everybody up,'' Smith said.

Smith rose to the occasion when the Bucs needed him most in the first quarter. The Chiefs faced third-and-12 on their 30-yard line when quarterback Trent Green connected with receiver Eddie Kennison, who sprinted past the Bucs' secondary and seemed headed for a touchdown. As Kennison was blazing down the field, Smith began closing in on the receiver. Smith caught Kennison on Tampa Bay's 7-yard line and stripped the ball, forcing a fumble that cornerback Brian Kelly picked up in the end zone and returned to the 29- yard line.

Not only did Smith prevent a touchdown, but that turnover also started the Bucs on the way to a touchdown drive and 14-7 advantage. Smith's forced fumble led to a 14-point swing. ``It's just a hustle play. A guy like Eddie Kennison is pretty fast and he was probably thinking there wasn't anyone behind him. I just tried to leap out and strip the ball,'' Smith said. ``I don't know if it's speed. It's all about want. I'm a guy who feels like I never want to give up. I don't want to turn on the film and say, `Dwight just gave up and let the guy score a touchdown.' ''

Monte Kiffin said the team practices ``pursuit plays'' daily, which consist of putting players in the end zone and forcing them to chase down a player who is sprinting to the other end zone. The drill teaches them to never give up on a play. ``That was the play of the game. It was one of the greatest plays I've ever been associated with in football,'' Jon Gruden said.

Smith grabbed an interception in the third quarter on another pass attempt to Kennison, but his last big play occurred with 7:37 remaining. The Bucs had a 34-31 lead and Kansas City was on the Tampa Bay 23-yard line. Green dropped back for a pass, but Smith came on a blitz and forced intentional grounding, backing the Chiefs up to the 35. Four plays later, safety Jermaine Phillips had an interception to end the Chiefs' last scoring opportunity. ``When you start out 0-4 you look for any ray of light. To be 3-1 [last four games] and beat a team like Kansas City keeps your hopes and dreams real high,'' Smith said.