In 1994, Rod Smith signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Missouri Southern. The 6-0 200-pound Smith was considered a project but he came into the NFL with the right attitude to succeed. He worked hard every day going above and beyond what he had to do. September 17, 1995, Rod Smith entered the game with the score tied 31-31 with just seconds to go. Denver had the ball at the 43-yard line, and with a 60-yard field goal unlikely, they decided to go for one more play. As Elway broke the huddle he said, “Rod Smith,” indicating the football would be going his way. Elway got the ball and dropped back, Smith ran a go route and Elway fired the ball toward the left side of the end zone. Smith went up at the 2-yard line and made a sensational catch over two defenders, one of them being future hall of famer, Darrell Green. As he came down, he was in the end zone and had his first touchdown catch of his career, a game winner against the Washington Redskins. Rod Smith said. “It’s a privilege to be able to catch passes from a true legend. John Elway is the best quarterback to ever play this game, period. Playing with him will be something I cherish the rest of life.” (2)
A year later against the Raiders, the Broncos were once again trailing with less than 5 minutes to play. Denver had the ball at the Raiders’ 49-yard line. This time Smith caught a 49-yard touchdown pass to give the Broncos the lead that they would not relinquish. It was Smith’s second career touchdown catch; both of them had been game winners.
With the improvement the coaching staff had seen in Smith, and due to his ability to block in the running game, Denver let Anthony Miller go after the 1996 season. Rod Smith would get his opportunity to shine, and he did not disappoint. Week 1 he caught 5 balls for 122 yards against the Chiefs. During the 3rd week of the season against the Rams, he pulled in 4 catches for 126 and 2 TDs. In week 15 against the Steelers, Smith grabbed four passes for 115 yards and 2 more TDs. When it was all said and done, Smith had compiled 70 catches for 1180 yards and 12 TDs with an impressive 16.9 yards per reception. He also blocked well, helping Terrell Davis to 1750 yards rushing.