"Not all of the plays are meant to go to him all the time," the Giants' quarterback said.
No, it just looks that way sometimes.
Smith had 11 receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns in yesterday's 27-16 win over the Chiefs. He had more than half of the team's 20 receptions in the game and had the ball thrown to him on 16 of the 36 pass attempts.
"Just trying to find the holes in the zone," Smith said.
Even when Smith doesn't make a play, it seems to lead to something big. In the second quarter, Manning threw a long pass to him that he dropped after a collision with safety Jarrad Page. That play drew an unnecessary-roughness call against Page (replays showed it was not a helmet-to-helmet hit) and also ignited Smith's competitive fire.
"That got me hyped," he said. "I knew it wasn't the hit that made the ball go down."
On the next play, Smith caught a 26-yard touchdown pass on a skinny post.
"He ran a great route and split the safeties and got into the end zone," Manning said. "That play wasn't put in for him. We weren't expecting to get that coverage [cover-2], but we got it and made the adjustment and he ran a good route."
Smith and Manning have connected 34 times this season, four for touchdowns. More importantly, they seem to be able to convert any third down from any distance. "He's amazing with the ball," Smith said. "I just look up and the ball is there sometimes. He knows my body language really well."
Smith's first touchdown also was on an inside post, this time from the 3 off play-action after three runs on the previous four plays.
"He caught the ball well and in difficult situations he has come up with the ball," Tom Coughlin said.
Though it looked at times as if no one was covering Smith, who has found a knack for settling into open areas, the third-year receiver said defenses are starting to adjust to him.
"They're starting to try to jam me with the press a little bit," he said, "but I have some good, quick feet and I can elude those defenders."
He also knows that he and the quarterback have plenty of patience to wait for those opportunities to present themselves rather than force them.
"Sometimes they tried to cover me, but we waited," Smith said. "Eli does a great job of waiting until I'm open. That's just how it is with zones and trying to hit the one-on-ones outside. Eli does a great job waiting for me to get off the press and get open."
>> Photos: Giants beat Chiefs, improve to 4-0