INDIANAPOLIS – Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith left his team’s 30-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts twice for potential head injuries, with the second injury knocking him out of the game for good with a concussion and putting his future playing status for the immediate future in doubt.
Smith lef the team’s first offensive possession with 11 minutes and 7 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Smith tried to scramble out of pressure, sliding to the ground for a sack at the line of scrimmage. Linebacker Edwin Jackson hit Smith as he went to the ground.
“He had a lacerated ear,” Reid said. “They thought initially that the pressure on that slap on his ear had caused his equilibrium to be off just a bit.”
Smith under went the NFL’s concussion protocol, which he passed, Reid said.
“He passed with flying colors the NFL concussion protocol,” Reid said. “I mean without any problem at all. And from there we put him back in.”
The Chiefs finished the first drive with a field goal. Smith returned to the sidelines before the end of the first quarter, and watched backup Nick Foles lead a scoring drive capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce.
Smith re-entered the game on the next possession, with 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter. He completed 6 of 13 passes for 82 yards and scrambled for eight yards over the team’s next five possessions.
Just before the end of the first half, Smith connected with receiver Jeremy Maclin for a 13-yard touchdown catch.
The Chiefs started their first possession of the second half 13 minutes, 1 second remaining in the third quarter. On the second play of the drive, left guard Parker Ehinger exited the game with a knee injury. Smith scrambled out of the pocket for eight yards on the next play, sliding safely to the ground before while avoiding contact.
On the next play, the Chiefs called a run-option play, and Smith kept the ball and ran around the left side. He slid to the ground again, this time for a 1-yard gain, but not before safety Clayton Geathers launched himself at Smith.
The quarterback’s head hit the ground, and Smith laid on the turf for more than a minute walking gingerly to the sideline with assistance. He later left for the locker room for a second concussion protocol examination.
This time, Smith failed the exam, and his day finished.
“If we had any inclination, if I did, I would have made sure we kept him out,” Reid said. “Obviously hindsight’s 20/20 here.”
Reid said the team’s training staff made the initial decision for Smith to return to the game. Reid then talked to the quarterback himself.
“I just want to talk to him just to make sure he was OK,” Reid explained. “The bottom line is, that there’s a certain protocol that’s set up that’s out of my hands and everybody else’s, and the league has gone to crazy steps here to make sure the guys are OK. And he passed all that, bottom line.”
It’s unclear how the concussion affects Smith’s availability for next Sunday’s game versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said the team holds faith in Foles if lines up at quarterback next week.
“Whatever happens next, I am pretty sure a week of preparation will help him,” Maclin said. “At the end of the day, the one thing that helped him going into this game was that he prepares every week like he is the guy.”
The team will evaluate Smith again upon their return to Kansas City.
“He’s doing well now,” Reid said. “And we’ll see how things go here.”