1. The Colts’ explosive run game kept landing haymakers.
Through Week 9, the Colts are averaging about four explosive running plays (10+ yards gained) per game; Jonathan Taylor now leads the NFL with 24 runs of 10 or more yards. Against the Jets, Taylor had five runs of 10 or more yards and Nyheim Hines had three.
“We have a great line, a quarterback that gets us in the right runs, tight ends who are willing to block, receivers – Pitt, Pascal, Ashton Dulin – we have guys who are willing to help us out,” Hines said. “So, it’s not just us.”
Those chunk gains on the ground added up as the game went on. Taylor’s 78-yard touchdown was a highlight, but this three-play sequence with eight minutes left in the third quarter was significant, too:
- Hines 25-yard run
- Taylor 10-yard run (with a facemask penalty)
- Carson Wentz pass to Danny Pinter for a touchdown
Hitting so many explosive runs – especially on consecutive plays – physically and mentally can wear down a defense.
“Those guys have to get up, tackle, pursue, get up, tackle, pursue and you can only dress so many D-linemen, they’re going to have to keep rotating them out,” center Ryan Kelly said. “It keeps the starters out there getting tired, and I’ll always take a tired offensive line versus a tired defensive line.”
Taylor said, too, he can sense the impact those big running plays have on an opponent.
“It kind of drains them,” Taylor said. “I would think it drains them. It’s like, ‘Man, he just scored in one play and we didn’t make them work for it.’ It kind of takes the life out of them I would say. That’s my perspective at least. You just try to get as many of those as you can in order to try and break their will. This game is about who’s the toughest the longest.”
And, again, it takes more than just the running back to generate explosive gains, and Taylor – like Hines – reserved a special shout-out to his wide receivers.
“The receivers are the guys who really get those explosive plays,” Taylor said. “The line gets it going and they get you started, but the receivers are the guys who really spring you. It’s a big testament to the type of receivers we have. You guys see them making plays down the field, through the air, but not a lot of people are noticing what they are doing on the run-game side.”