Entering the final week of the season, the Colts needed a little bit of help to land a playoff spot and find themselves in the postseason. After the Bills’ victory against the Dolphins, it came down to a ‘win and get in’ situation for the Colts. After a few hiccups, particularly in the third quarter of the game, Indy was able to take down the Jaguars, 28-14.
Prior to the game, I offered a player on both offense and defense who I thought would be keys to winning this game. Let’s see how they did:
Jonathan Taylor (RB)
I picked Jonathan Taylor this week because I figured the Colts would get out to an early lead, and primarily run the ball the rest of the way. That was only more or less true because the Jaguars made a bit of a comeback in the third quarter of the game.
Taylor could not have had a more spectacular game, however, and exceeded all expectations that anyone could have had for him this week.
Taylor finished the game with 30 carries for 253 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. His longest run was a breakout 56 yarder that got the offense deep into Jacksonville territory and led to a T.Y. Hilton receiving touchdown.
His most important run, however, came late in the fourth quarter when the Colts were only winning by 6. With a little over 3 minutes to play, Taylor was able to put together a 45-yard rushing touchdown to solidify the win for the Colts and secure their slot as the 7th seed in the AFC Playoff picture.
Taylor ended the season third in rushing yards in the NFL, behind only Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook. His 253 yards on Sunday are tied for the ninth-most in the history of the NFL and are the most in Colts franchise history.
Coming into the game, Taylor needed 84 yards to reach the 1,000 yard milestone this season, and he far surpassed that. He has clearly gotten better each week this season, and he will without a doubt be a massive component of the offense as the Colts take on some tough opponents in the playoffs.
Taylor is a beast. There’s no better way to put it.
Darius Leonard (LB)
I knew that the Colts secondary was a little banged up with the absence of Khari Willis and Rock Ya-Sin this week. I also recognized that this was a must-win for the Colts, and wanted to pick a leader on the team that could help the defense rise to the occasion.
I chose Darius Leonard because he is one of the cornerstones of the Colts defense. He leads the team in tackles and basically puts up double-digit tackles every single week. He is also a vocal leader and his confidence is infectious.
On Sunday, Leonard did a little bit of everything for the defense. He racked up 10 total tackles, 8 of which were solo. He also had a sack and a forced fumble on Mike Glennon, the Jacksonville quarterback. On top of that, Leonard had two passes defended and was just an overall disrupter of the Jaguar offense for the full 60 minutes of football.
The fumble that Leonard forced on Glennon was scooped up by T.J. Carrie and brought into Jacksonville territory. After a few quick offensive plays for the Colts, they found themselves with the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Leonard has been a force on defense since coming to the NFL, and his dominance will surely continue. He is a key player for this team every single week, and the Colts will need him desperately if they plan to take down some of the AFC’s best.