Colts struggled in 30-14 loss to Chiefs

Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Coming in for the injured Alex Smith, Nick Foles kept the Kansas City Chiefs on a roll on Sunday.

It’s a job he may have to hold down a while longer.

Foles threw for one touchdown pass each time he replaced Smith, leading the Chiefs to their third consecutive victory, 30-14 at Indianapolis on Sunday.

Smith left twice after taking hits to the head, once with a cut on his ear that left him disoriented and the second time with a concussion.

Somehow, the tag-team quarterbacks kept the Chiefs chugging along against Indy’s struggling defense.

“He has a pretty good feel for the offense. He’s been in it before,” coach Andy Reid said. “He’s been a Pro Bowl player before. He’s pretty good.”

It was a rough game for the Chiefs, who lost Smith twice after hits to the head and finished the game with Charcandrick West as their only healthy running back.

Smith left on the game’s opening series, but was cleared by doctors to return. He left again early in the third quarter after Clayton Geathers shoved Smith’s head to the turf as the quarterback tried to slide underneath the tackle.

Geathers said the hit was not intentional, but the hit left Smith with a concussion and he did not return.

But both quarterbacks got the job done.

Foles’ 14-yard TD pass to Travis Kelce early in the second quarter made it 10-0. Smith made it 17-7 at halftime with a 13-yard TD pass to Jeremy Maclin, and after Smith’s second departure, Foles hooked up with Tyreek Hill on a 34-yard scoring pass for a 24-7 lead.

Foles finished 16 of 22 for 223 yards with no interceptions.

And this time, the Chiefs (5-2) defense prevented Andrew Luck from pulling off another comeback — similar to the previous time these teams met in January 2014.

Luck has three come-from-behind wins this season with Indy (3-5) and tried to deliver another one Sunday, but couldn’t get the Colts closer than 24-14.

Luck was 19 of 35 with 210 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, one fumble lost on a day his top receiver T.Y. Hilton caught only one pass.

“I struggled,” Luck said. “I think every offensive player in the room felt like we let each other down.”

SOCIAL MEDIA CONCERN

The social media traffic about the hits on Smith came from all corners. Some fans questioned whether Geathers intentionally drove Smith’s head into the turf to knock him out of the game. Former Colts linebacker Gary Brackett wrote on Twitter that whoever cleared Smith to return should be fired, while the television announcers questioned the play call because of Smith’s previous injury. Even Smith’s wife, Elizabeth, piped in — questioning how many hits it takes to draw a flag. Smith took several hits to the head in last week’s game that weren’t called.

TROUBLE WITH TRAVIS

Travis Kelce exposed an old flaw in the Colts’ defense, covering tight ends. The Colts struggled with that all of last season, and Kelce took advantage again Sunday. He matched his season high with six receptions in the first half and finished with seven catches for 101 yards, both season highs.

SLOW START

After better starts each of the past two weeks, the Colts reverted to their old form against the Chiefs. Not only did they trail 17-7 at halftime, they were lucky it wasn’t worse given that Kansas City had a 4½-minute advantage in time of possession in the first half, settled for a 33-yard field goal and missed a 28-yarder.

INJURY REPORT

Chiefs: In addition to Smith, starting running back Spencer Ware missed the second half with a concussion. Ware started in place of Jamaal Charles , who was inactive because of swelling in his surgically repaired knee. Left guard Parker Ehinger also left in the second half with a right knee injury and did not return.

Colts: The Colts began the game without three starters and got hit even harder during the game. Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis and right tackle Joe Reitz both left with concussions and did not return. Hilton returned after hurting his hamstring bur wasn’t the same. And receiver Phillip Dorsett sustained an undisclosed injury on the second to last play of the game.

THEY SAID IT

Chiefs: “If we were at all concerned, we wouldn’t have put him back in. That’s the bottom line,” Reid talking about the decision to let Smith return in the second quarter.

Colts: “We took a step back today, that’s obvious,” coach Chuck Pagano said.

UP NEXT:

Colts: Travel to Green Bay next Sunday.

Chiefs: Host Jacksonville next Sunday.