Jonathan Taylor ran with power, ran with burst, and even caught a few passes. He did it all – making life easier for his Indianapolis Colts teammates against the New York Jets.
And he became a national star Thursday night in the process.
Taylor rushed for 172 yards and two scores, Carson Wentz threw three touchdown passes and the Colts pulled away for a badly needed 45-30 victory.
Taylor, who had a game-sealing 78-yard TD run, also had two catches for 28 yards. Nyheim Hines ran for 74 yards and a score on six carries as the Colts sliced through the Jets’ defence for 260 yards on the ground.
“We had a one-play drive for 75 yards or something like that and that’s the best drive you can have,” Wentz said. “He and Nyheim, those guys played unbelievable. Those guys up front, they did a tremendous job.”
After suffering a stunning overtime loss against Tennessee on Sunday, the Colts spent their short week searching for answers.
Taylor provided most of them.
His shifty, 21-yard TD run broke a 7-7 tie in the early in the second quarter. And with Jets quarterback Mike White already out with an injured arm, the Colts (4-5) were off to the races in their first prime-time home game since December 2017.
Taylor’s longest run of the night made it 42-10 midway through the third quarter and helped Indy finish with the highest single-game rushing total in the NFL this season.
“It takes the pressure off the passing game when you run like that,” coach Frank Reich. “But you could feel it early, you could feel us really dominating the line early.”
Nothing went right for the Jets, who have lost seven straight night games.
White left in the first quarter after he said two fingers on his right hand went numb – just four days after he threw for 405 yards and three TDs in his first NFL start.
White said he couldn’t grip the ball and watched the final three quarters from the sideline after throwing a 19-yard TD pass to Elijah Moore that made it 7-7. Jets coach Robert Saleh said he was optimistic White and Zach Wilson (knee) could both practice next week.
But after White departed in this one, it was all Colts.
Jets running back Ty Johnson lost a fumble near midfield and Wentz capitalized quickly with a 1-yard shovel pass to Jack Doyle for a 21-7 lead.
The Jets answered with a short field goal late in the first half, but Wentz countered with an 11-yard TD pass to Michael Pittman to make it 28-10. Wentz followed that with a 2-yard scoring pass to offensive lineman Danny Pinter in the third quarter before Taylor struck again.
At least Josh Johnson, White’s replacement, played well. He threw for a career-high 317 yards and had a career-best three touchdown passes in the final 18 minutes – his first TD throws since Dec. 22, 2018.
“Josh, thought he did an awesome job coming in, running the offence exactly the way it’s supposed to be played – hitting the open receiver, just moving the chains,” Saleh said. “We just need to be able to match their defensive intensity.”
Wentz was 22 of 30 with 272 yards. Pittman had five receptions for 64 yards, while Hines caught four passes for 34 yards.
Johnson finished 27 of 41 with an interception that sealed the win for the Colts. Moore caught seven passes for 84 yards and two scores.
Jets: White was 7 of 11 with 95 yards and one score before leaving. ... Michael Carter’s streak of two straight games with 100 yards from scrimmage ended. He had 13 carries for 49 yards and seven receptions for 37 yards. ... New York allowed Indy to average 8.7 yards per carry.
Colts: Wentz has thrown multiple TD passes in six straight games and is 2-0 all-time against the Jets. ... Taylor has 2,082 yards from scrimmage in his career. He also passed Alan Ameche (1,819 yards ) for the fourth-highest rushing total by an Indy player in his first two seasons.
Jets: TE Tyler Kroft (chest) and S Marcus Maye (Achilles tendon) left and didn’t return. Saleh said it “wasn’t looking good” on Maye. ... Wilson (knee) and WR Corey Davis (hamstring) each sat out for a second straight game.
Colts: Four-time Pro Bowl WR T.Y. Hilton missed the game four days after hitting his head hard on the ground and entering the concussion protocol. ... Starting S Khari Willis went on injured reserve with an injured calf earlier Thursday. ... RT Braden Smith left with a triceps injury and CB Xavier Rhodes left with a calf injury.
Jets: Begin a two-game homestand against Buffalo on Nov. 14.
Colts: Play the last of three straight home games Nov. 14 against Jacksonville.