Alex Smith exits with concussion in Chiefs' win over Colts


Alex Smith exits with concussion in Chiefs' win over Colts


INDIANAPOLIS -- Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes in relief of the injured Alex Smith to help the Kansas City Chiefs hold off Indianapolis 30-14 on Sunday.

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

Smith was checked for a concussion in the first half and cleared to return, which he did in the second quarter. 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.

Smith was then diagnosed with a concussion and did not return.

"You call it the way that you've practiced it and you go in and let them go and let them play," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.

Somehow, both quarterbacks kept the Chiefs' offense in sync.

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.

This time, the Chiefs (5-2) 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 and tried to deliver another one Sunday. but never got close enough to make it a serious threat.

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

Luck finished 19 of 35 with 210 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and one fumble lost for the Colts (3-5).

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


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.


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.


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 4 1/2-minute advantage in time of possession in the first half, settled for a 33-yard field goal and missed a 28-yarder.


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. Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton returned after hurting his hamstring, but struggled. And receiver Phillip Dorsett left with an undisclosed injury on the second to last play of the game.

Quarterback drafted by Jon Gruden in 2008 signs with Raiders


Quarterback drafted by Jon Gruden in 2008 signs with Raiders

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had a hand in drafting Josh Johnson a decade ago. The agile quarterback and Oakland native was a Tampa Bay’s fifth-round pick in 2008, Gruden’s last year as Buccaneers coach.

The pair will reunite in Johnson’s hometown. The well-traveled quarterback signed with the Raiders on Monday, the team announced.

Johnson will compete with Connor Cook to backup starter Derek Carr, and brings a veteran’s influence to the position group. It likely spells the end of EJ Manuel’s short tenure in silver and black. The strong-armed former first-round pick, who started one game last season, remains a free agent after a year with the Raiders.

This move should make Marshawn Lynch happy. He and Johnson are extremely close and together run the Family First Foundation, a charitable organization that does significant work for East Bay kids. Johnson and Lynch also played football together at Oakland Tech High.

Johnson has played 10 NFL teams prior to this Raiders stop, but hasn’t played in a regular-season game for some time.

Raiders well equipped to 'slam the ball with a beast'


Raiders well equipped to 'slam the ball with a beast'

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden needed specific tools to run his running game. He wanted blocking tight ends and a bruising fullback, relics of a bygone offensive era.

“If Marshawn Lynch is the feature back, I think it’d be nice if we serviced him with a fullback,” Gruden said at the combine. … You need a blocking tight end if you’re going to slam the ball with a beast. So, those are two things that I’m looking for.”

Gruden said he wanted to import some old-school elements to help run with brute force.

Enter free-agent fullback Kyle Smith and tight end Derek Carrier. Welcome back, Lee Smith.

Then, on Sunday, Raiders made another vital move in this old school effort. They cut Marshawn Lynch a $1 million check.

The Oakland native’s roster bonus came due and the Raiders had no problem paying it, the clearest sign Lynch will be the Raiders feature back in 2018.

He’ll have a great chance to thrive in that role. The Raiders have a hulking, expensive offensive line (that still needs a right tackle). They have new ancillary blocking elements, and the centerpiece remains in place.

That last part was expected in recent weeks. The coaching staff, offensive line coach Tom Cable especially, wanted Lynch back. NFL Network confirmed those facts, stating Lynch will be around in 2018.

That was the case, even with Doug Martin’s addition. The former Tampa Bay back is expected to be a backup bruiser, someone who might put DeAndre Washington or (less likely) Jalen Richard’s job in jeopardy.

The Raiders can cut Lynch without a cap hit. Lynch is scheduled to make $6 million in salary and bonuses, with another $2 million available in incentives. The Raiders should hope to pay those; it would mean Lynch is running well.

The Raiders have given him a great opportunity to do so. They have solid blocking and a coach in Cable who helped him succeed during dominant days in Seattle.

Lynch proved he’s still got it in 2017’s second half, with 70 percent of his 891 rushing yards in the final eight games. He struggled early on, and upset some fans by helping the opposition during a scuffle with Kansas City. That mitigated a PR bump the Raiders looked for when signing a popular Oakland native just months after committing to Las Vegas long-term.

Jack Del Rio and staff grew tired of what they perceived as leeway given to Lynch unavailable to others, and probably wouldn’t have kept him on if still gainfully employed.

Gruden seems committed to Lynch this season, though nothing is ever 100 percent with an enigmatic rusher who doesn’t make private thoughts public.

His elusive, rough-and-tumble rushing style fits well with what Gruden wants, though he demands commitment to the team and sport. Sports Illustrated relayed a story of Gruden saying he needed a “full-time Lynch.”

If he gets that, the Raiders run game should thrive.