For Reggie Smith, the Chicago Bruisers' 64-61 comeback victory over the Washington Commandos Thursday night was probably an ideal return to the area.
Smith, who played briefly for the USFL Washington Federals in 1983 and now resides in Oxon Hill, caught six passes for 86 yards at Capital Centre to help the Bruisers win their second straight game and stay in contention for Arenabowl I, Arena Football's championship game.
Washington is 1-4 with one game left, and is out of Arenabowl I contention.
Smith, who played for the Atlanta Falcons in 1980 and 1981, has been saying since training camp that the new, compact game is "geared for me." That is not at all surprising, considering he is a 5-foot-6 speedster in a league that emphasizes smaller players.
He has been hampered by a hamstring pull sustained in Chicago's second game, but Thursday, he made a one-handed 30-yard touchdown reception that cut Washington's lead to 52-44 and triggered Chicago's comeback.
When Washington lost to Denver, 73-57, two weeks ago, its inexperienced secondary was cited as a major factor in the defensive collapse. Thursday's game was much of the same. Smith said he was open "all day long, all day long." He added that Chicago keyed on cornerback Mike Calhoun, the Commandos' ex-starting quarterback who hadn't played defensive back since high school, in the first half.
The Bruisers' Daryl Hart beat Calhoun for touchdown passes twice early in the second quarter. "Sometimes I felt like I was on an island out there," said Calhoun, who started the game at safety but was replaced after Hart's touchdowns.