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Marlon Mack rolls over Houston with the help of Indy’s offensive line

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Wild Card Round - Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

See if these names ring a bell: Edgerrin James, Marshall Faulk, Eric Dickerson and Lydell Mitchell. How about Marlon Mack? In just his second season with Indianapolis, Mack bested the Colts franchise record for most yards in a playoff game. Mack was the catalyst for the offense’s 200 yard rushing day, another Colts record. Saturday, the Colts ran the ball 35 times for 200 yards, 148 of which were attributed Mack.

The Texans’ run defense was ranked first in the regular season, allowing the fewest rushing yards per game and the league’s fewest yards per carry (3.4). Mack was fast out of the chute with 8 yards on the first drive and 65 yards in the first quarter alone.

“We came into this game saying we need to dominate up front, we need to play, we need to run the football, and we need to stop the run,” Colts head coach Frank Reich told the media after Saturday’s game. “To roll off 200 yards against that defense is unbelievable. That’s just a real credit to the offensive line and our running backs and tight ends. I can’t say enough about that.”

Mack attended the University of South Florida for three years before entering the NFL draft in 2017. During his stellar career at USF he rushed for 3,609 yards, 586 carries and 32 touchdowns. The Colts selected Mack in the fourth round of the NFL draft, making him the first running back to be selected from USF.

He entered the 2018 season as the Colts’ primary running back after Frank Gore departed in free agency. After suffering a hamstring injury in the first preseason game, he was inactive during the Colts’ season opening loss against the Cincinnati Bengals. He was then sidelined weeks three through five due to an aggravated hamstring. After week seven, Mack returned and ended the regular season with 908 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. He also became the third player in Colts history behind Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James to have multiple games with at least 125 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the same season.

Of course Mack’s performance hinged on the excellence of the Colts’ offensive line against the Texans. On the second drive of the game, Mack took a handoff from Luck while guard Quenton Nelson bulldozed Texans’ linebacker Jadeveon Clowney and center Ryan Kelly did the same upfield, paving the way for Mack to drive 25 yards.

“Those guys helped me today,” Mack told the Indy Star. “They got me to the second level.”

That’s certainly the understatement of the postseason to date.

The Colts are now turning their attention to Kansas City’s No. 1 offense led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Should the offensive line repeat their performance in the same way they did against Houston, Mack could break the bank against a suspect Chiefs defense. Kansas City is currently second to last in the NFL in yards per rush.

The Colts will travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Chiefs on Saturday at 4:25 pm Eastern.