Steve Smith makes the Panthers miss him

For the second straight NFL Sunday, a well-known wide receiver topped 100 yards in his first game against his former team. Last week it was the Redskins’ DeSean Jackson renewing acquaintances with the Eagles; this week it was Steve Smith exchanging pleasantries with the Panthers.

In the free-agent era, such made-for-TV reunions have become commonplace. They didn’t happen nearly so often in the old days. Consider: Don Hutson played for only one club his entire career: the Packers. The same goes for Raymond Berry (Colts), Charley Taylor (Redskins) and Steve Largent (Seahawks). Don Maynard had all but six of his 633 catches for the Jets, Art Monk all but 52 of his 940 for the Redskins. And each of them, I’ll just remind you, held the all-time receptions record at some point.

Now you have wideouts — in their later years, particularly — bouncing from team to team and basically playing as long as they’ve got two legs to run routes with. What was Jerry Rice’s last known address again? Oh, yes, the Broncos (though he had second thoughts and retired before playing for them).

So expect to see plenty more of these scenes in the seasons ahead — a celebrated wideout crossing paths with his old club. It’s kind of the football equivalent of bumping into your ex-wife, and, as we’ve seen, can make for very good theater. Smith, with touchdowns of 61 and 21 yards vs. Carolina, and Jackson, with an 81-yarder vs. Philadelphia, had two of the best Revenge Games (if you want to call them that) in modern times. One man’s Top 10:

BEST “REVENGE GAMES” BY WIDE RECEIVERS SINCE 1960

Date Receiver, Team Former Team Rec Yds TD Result
10-30-11 Anquan Boldin, Ravens Cardinals 7 145 0 W, 30-27
9-18-05 Terrell Owens, Eagles 49ers 5 143 2 W, 42-3
9-28-14 Steve Smith, Ravens Panthers 7 139 2 W, 38-10
9-21-14 DeSean Jackson, Redskins Eagles 5 117 1 L, 37-34
10-18-09 Torry Holt, Jaguars Rams 5 101 0 W, 23-20
11-15-64 Tommy McDonald, Cowboys Eagles 7 99 0 L, 17-14
11-21-93 Irving Fryar, Dolphins Patriots 4 97 1 W, 17-13
9-23-62 Bobby Mitchell, Redskins Browns 3 94 1 W, 17-16
9-12-93 Gary Clark, Cardinals Redskins 6 93 0 W, 17-10
12-24-94 Henry Ellard, Redskins Rams 5 81 0 W, 24-21

Note: Mitchell caught the winning touchdown pass in the final two minutes, a 50-yarder. . . . Ellard’s game was the last one the Rams played in Los Angeles before moving to St. Louis.

OTHERS WORTHY OF MENTION

Date Wide Receiver, Team Former Team Rec Yds TD Result
11-3-02 Jerry Rice, Raiders 49ers 6 74 0 L, 23-20
9-23-12 Randy Moss, 49ers Vikings 3 27 0 L, 24-13
9-13-87 James Lofton, Raiders Packers 2 32 0 W, 20-0
11-5-72 Lance Alworth, Cowboys Chargers 1 8 0 W, 34-28
11-24-13 Wes Welker, Broncos Patriots 4 31 0 L, 34-31
9-24-00 Keyshawn Johnson, Bucs Jets 1 1 0 L, 21-17

Source: pro-football-reference.com