“OH MY GOODNESS, THAT FELT GOOD!” Frank Reich exclaimed in the locker room following the Colts’ 41-15 thrashing of the Buffalo Bills. The Colts put together an utterly dominating performance in all three phases of the game and had arguably their best win since the 2019 trip to Arrowhead on Sunday Night Football. Jonathan Taylor and the defense were the biggest stories of the game, putting the rest of the NFL on notice that this Indianapolis Colts team can beat anyone.
Jonathan Taylor for MVP
Last week after the Jaguars game, my colleague Austin Isaac included a section about Jonathan Taylor putting himself in the MVP conversation. At the time, it seemed unlikely that Taylor would be able to boost his stock enough to be an MVP contender. After today, Taylor’s name should be among the top contenders vying for the most valuable player award as he ran all over the Bills’ top 5 rushing defense. Taylor scampered for 185 yards on 32 carries and added 5 total touchdowns to single-handedly lift the Colts on offense. Taylor leads the NFL in rushing yards and still has fewer attempts than the injured Derrick Henry. The offensive lines performance shouldn’t go without recognition either, as they dominated the Bills in the trenches for the majority of the game. Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox both sprung JT loose a few times with key blocks. If Taylor stays healthy through the back half of the season, I expect the hype train around his MVP candidacy to grow.
The Defense Steps Up Again
In my preview article for this game, I expressed concern about how the defense would hold up against Josh Allen and the Bills’ prolific passing attack. Say what you will about it being freezing cold, windy, and raining, but the Colts defense might have put together their most impressive performance this season. Kwity Paye continued to show why Chris Ballard might have finally hit on an edge rusher after stripping Josh Allen and forcing Tyler Bass to attempt a 57-yard field goal at the end of the half, which he missed. Paye continues to rack up pressures and hurries while finally hitting home on a few sacks. The Colts only recorded the aforementioned sack on the day but seemingly made Allen’s life miserable as the pressure forced him to make several inaccurate throws. The secondary shined once again in a manner that thoroughly surprised me. Playing with two backup safeties, the Colts managed three interceptions, with one coming from George Odum. Odum has earned the opportunity to play next to Khari Willis when he returns and is making a case for why he should be re-signed as more than just a special teams ace this offseason. Kenny Moore’s volleyball interception cannot go without mention. The best slot corner in the league continues to make plays and raise the level of performance of the entire secondary. Rock “Lock” Ya-Sin is also quietly putting together a tremendous third season. If anything, this proves that fans must be patient with both corners and pass rushers, looking at former Colts first-round pick and now Bills’ standout Jerry Hughes, as it can take a few seasons for them to begin to hit their stride as difference makers.
Previewing Next Week
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers come to town next week in a game that could set the Colts apart from the rest of the wild card teams in the AFC. With a performance like today, the Colts can beat anyone, but the key will be consistency. The Bucs are going into Monday Night Football against the Giants on a two-game skid, but if there is any team to get back on track against, it would probably be the Giants. Brady will be the Colts’ biggest challenge to date, but they will have a chance if they can get pressure on him. Carson Wentz will need to be better for the Colts to win next week so that the Bucs defense will at least respect the threat of the passing game and not stack the box with an eight-man front to stop Taylor.
The Blue Stable Player of the Game: Jonathan Taylor
Jonathan Taylor has made this section of the post-game breakdowns repetitive over the past few weeks. I’m running out of adjectives to describe his performance from week to week because he consistently puts up historic numbers. Taylor is putting himself up there with the likes of Lenny Moore, Marshall Faulk, and Edgerrin James as one of the great backs in this franchises’ illustrious history. Yes, he has played less than two years, but his gaudy stats speak for themselves. By the end of his tenure as a Colt, I believe he will be looked at like those legends I named above. This team will go as far as Jonathan Taylor’s legs can carry them.