Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith left the game in the first quarter after a hit to the head. Doctors cleared Smith to return after determining a cut to the ear left him disoriented.
INDIANAPOLIS — The Kansas City Chiefs were the kings of improv Sunday.
They may have to do it all over again next week after a rugged 30-14 victory at Indianapolis.
This week’s biggest concern, of course, will be the status of starting quarterback Alex Smith, who left with a concussion after taking two more hits to the head. He also took several such hits in last week’s victory over New Orleans, and coach Andy Reid felt compelled to explain why Smith returned after he appeared woozy when he left on the game’s opening possession.
"If we were at all concerned, we wouldn’t have put him back in. That’s the bottom line," Reid said, acknowledging the doctors cleared Smith after determining a cut to the ear left him disoriented.
That much was understandable. The second hit might not have been, at least in the eyes of the public.
On second-and-2 from their 45-yard line, Smith ran around the left side and slid to the turf as Colts safety Clayton Geathers was closing in. Geathers reached out with both hands and appeared to shove Smith’s head into the turf. No penalty was called.
The scrutiny that followed came quickly and from all corners of social media.
Former Colts linebacker Gary Brackett used his Twitter account to contend the mistake was made by whoever cleared Smith to play. Fans questioned whether Geathers hit was intentionally designed to knock Smith out of the game. Even Smith’s wife, Elizabeth, chimed in with her own disgust about the no-calls — just like last week.
"These past two weeks have opened my eyes," Elizabeth Smith wrote in the first of a two-part tweet. "How many hits does he have to take before a flag is thrown. Funny when some QB’s gets tapped flags go flying."
After the game , Geathers described the play in detail and insisted the blow was not intentional before going a step further.
"It was like he wanted to go for a first (down) and then didn’t want to go for a first (down). I was just going in for the hit, but then kind of let up and then we went down," Geathers said. "I tried just not even touching him. If I did, I apologize."
Regardless, the Chiefs don’t know the status of three key playmakers: Smith and running backs Jamaal Charles and Spencer Ware. Charles stayed home with swelling in his surgically repaired knee and is scheduled to see a doctor Monday. Ware did not play in the second half after being diagnosed with a concussion.
That forced Reid to finish the game with his only healthy running back, Charcandrick West, and backup quarterback Nick Foles, who took all but 22 snaps Sunday.
Not enough? Kansas City also lost left guard Parker Ehinger in the third quarter with a sprained right knee. Reid did not say how much time Ehinger would miss.
So for the time being, the Chiefs will try to survive this injury rash just like they did against the Colts.
"These things happen," Reid said. "It isn’t tiddlywinks. It’s a pretty violent game, so guys get hurt."