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Colts utilize run game in fourth quarter to seal win over Las Vegas Raiders

In the fourth quarter, the Colts ran the ball 13 times and gained 74 yards. They had three runs go for 11 yards or more.


Embroiled in a close game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, the Colts knew that the best way to separate themselves was by relying heavily on the run game.

"We can win in the trenches. And having that mindset like hey, this is what we need to do to put this game away," running back Jonathan Taylor said. "We need to finish these guys. So let's come together, everybody do your job, do it at a high level — higher than you've ever done it before. Because previous scenarios, the biggest thing is you gotta win. You gotta find a way to win. No matter how it happens, you have to find a way to win."

Taylor's assessment proved to be true because, in the fourth quarter, the offense rode the run game and was rewarded for it with a 23-20 win.

After running the ball 16 times for 60 yards through the first three quarters, they saw a big jump in production in the final period. They gained 74 yards on 13 rushing attempts, averaging a respectable 5.6 yards per carry.

Aided heavily by a 27-yard run by Trey Sermon and two totes of 10-plus yards by Taylor, the Colts' physicality began to wear down the Raiders' defense.

"Credit to the guys up front," head coach Shane Steichen said. "Leading the charge creating those holes for him [Taylor]. I know we got some stuff on the perimeter there - the one Trey hit around the edge there was huge. To get those runs, pop those runs, it's good and then the guys feed off of that stuff. The offensive line feeds off it, tight ends feed off, running backs feed off it, sidelines feed off it. It's good momentum when you're popping runs like that."

However, those chunk plays wouldn't have been possible without the runs that picked up medium gains.

"Everybody wants the big explosive runs right off the get-go, but that doesn't always happen," center Ryan Kelly said. "Those three, four or five-yard runs, they continue to happen and happen and happen and eventually they break out. I'm telling you, that speaks a lot to Shane, that speaks a lot to a lot of the coaches who still believe in the run game.

"Even though you're not seeing production of the six or seven or 10-yard runs right away, but if those threes continue to keep bumping up and going higher, doing that in the fourth quarter really just helps everything. It helps the defense get off the field, it helps special teams - so all those things just kind of complement together and helps out."

To start the fourth quarter, the Colts ran the ball 10 straight times. By comparison, quarterback Gardner Minshew II threw the ball twice.

"I just know the way the game was going, it was like, if we keep hammering, we got this. Everybody on the sideline knew we had it."

View in-game highlights from the Colts versus Raiders at Lucas Oil Stadium on New Year's Eve.

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