The Washington Football Team could've gone into its Week 13 meeting with undefeated Pittsburgh maybe subconsciously thinking they were, collectively, too young to take the next step.
But following the stunning 23-17 upset? Maybe the kids are growing up. Maybe youth is being served. by quarterback Alex Smith.
“We’re so young that you have to have wins like this to learn from them and know you can do it,” Smith said. “You don’t get that confidence without having done it. So for us, I think a big win that we’ll take with us, knowing we can go on the road and play with anybody.”
It's a catch-22 of sorts: A team needs experience to win. But how does it get experience ... unless it wins?
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For WFT, all the problems are not solved. At 5-7, Washington's not a world-beater. There are still growing pains to endure - but also more wins to collect, maybe in Sunday's Week 14 visit to Arizona to play the COVID-forced travelers from San Francisco.
The Niners are also 5-7 but in last place in their division, while WFT is a contender with that record in theirs. If WFT is to separate itself from San Francisco? In addition to the kids, it'll be a former Niner - the No. 1 pick in the 2005 NFL Draft - who will be a key.
That's Smith, 36, two years removed from that horrendous leg injury who is bolstering his case for NFL Comeback Player of the Year by leading Washington with 296 yards on 31-of-46 passing ... and a bloody leg sustained in the first half when he was accidentally cleated.
“This was a big test,” Smith said of WFT's third straight win, in part keyed by a defense starring rookie Chase Young. “Could we come on the road, with an undefeated football team in their place, and get a win like this? I’m really happy for our guys.”
A lot of the "guys'' are kids. With Alex Smith's help, maybe they are growing up just in time.