Viking tight end Irv Smith Jr.’s homecoming spoiled by humbling loss

Maybe someday, Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. will allow himself a smile when he thinks back to the time he scored two Christmas Day touchdowns in his hometown.

But the 22-year-old, second-year pro had no interest in celebrating his personal achievements Friday. Not after the Vikings suffered a humbling 52-33 loss to the Saints in New Orleans on national television.

“I’m a competitor,” Smith said. “The objective of the game is to win. We fell short of that today.”


It’s safe to say Smith did his part with two receiving touchdowns near the goal line. He just couldn’t make up for the fact that the Vikings defense had now idea of how to contain star running back Alvin Kamara.

“We go out there and do our thing and try to put points up on the board, and the defense goes out there and tries to stop their offense,” Smith said. “It’s something we really can’t control. I just try to stay positive and keep those guys encouraged. Just go out there and do our job.”

In reality, the Vikings needed to score pretty much every time they touched the ball Friday as Kamara ran roughshod en route to tying an NFL record with six rushing touchdowns.

“He’s an outstanding player, and it showed today for sure,” Smith said. “Shoutout to him for that.”

Was it disheartening to watch Kamara dominate?

“I was just trying to stay positive and go out there and make as many plays as I can to help my team win,” Smith said. “There were a few plays I wish I would have made. I’m going to go back and work on some things.”

While the loss eliminates the Vikings from playoff contention, there are some silver linings when looking toward the future. Looking at Smith specifically, he found his stride in the final month of the season, and looks ready to take over for veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph, who most likely won’t be back with the Vikings next season.

That doesn’t take away from the pain of missing the playoffs, though.

“It’s definitely something that us as a team we’re not happy about,” Smith said. “It’s something we didn’t plan. We go to work every day and we put in a lot of effort out there. We never doubt the effort that our team brings.”

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