Colts' Jonathan Taylor Rushing Into NFL MVP Conversation After Win Over Patriots

Taylor rushed for 170 yards on 29 carries, including a game-clinching 67-yard touchdown just before the two-minute warning, in the Colts' 27-17 win over the New England Patriots on Saturday night. 

We're all going to remember Jonathan Taylor's touchdown against the New England Patriots for a long, long time.

Taylor picked up some fantastic blocking from center Danny Pinter, left guard Quenton Nelson and left tackle Eric Fisher, juked one of the best run-stuffing linebackers in the NFL out of his cleats with one cut and sprinted 67 yards for the touchdown that all but officially put an end to the Colts' 12-year losing streak against the Patriots and sent a delirious, sold-out crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium into a full-throated chant of "M-V-P! M-V-P!"

Where would the Colts be without Jonathan Taylor, whose 170 yards on 29 carries widened his laughable lead on the NFL rushing crown? That's so often the question asked about MVP candidacy. The good news, at least for every team but the Colts, is we don't know.

What we do know is where the Colts are with Taylor: At 8-6, this team has a stranglehold on the AFC's No. 5 seed and just showed on a national stage why they look like That Team No One Wants To Play in the postseason while dropping the Patriots, 27-17. Isn't that good enough to at least be in the MVP conversation, if not win the whole dang thing?

"There's no question," linebacker Darius Leonard said. "What he's doing now in the NFL, there's absolutely no question that he's the MVP."

That 67-yard run was yet another standout moment for the NFL's best running back. Taylor, when the Colts needed a big-time play, delivered – as he's done time and time again in 2021.

But that was hardly the only time Taylor made a massive impact on the Colts' win over the team that entered Week 15 as the AFC's No. 1 seed.

Taylor won his block on cornerback J.C. Jackson on the Colts' first touchdown of the game, a trick play pass to Nyheim Hines, helping turn that play into six points. Long before he took out linebacker Dont'a Hightower with his devastating one-cut run in the fourth quarter, he cleared the hulking 260-pounder out of Wentz's way to trigger a 23-yard completion to Zach Pascal, which sparked a drive that ended with a field goal in the second quarter.

Taylor added two other explosive runs before his 67-yarder, the second of which helped start a drive midway through the fourth quarter with a first down, which benefitted the Colts from a field position and clock standpoint as the Patriots tried to mount a comeback. Taylor rushed for seven first downs and 125 of his 170 yards came after contact, per Pro Football Focus. His ability to move the pile helped the Colts stay on schedule quite a bit on early downs, which allowed head coach Frank Reich and this offense to have more answers against Bill Belichick's Patriots defense.

"I just took the same approach, it's the same game to me," Taylor said when asked if he took any extra juice from playing the Patriots. "Being able to just be where I need to be, when I need to be there, every single play. Knowing that eventually things will come our way, and things will start falling."

There are two other ways to think about what Taylor did beyond another eye-popping statline and completely bonkers highlight reel, though.

First: The Colts beat the AFC No. 1 seed Patriots by 10 points in Week 15 with Carson Wentz completing five of 12 passes for 57 yards. Wentz on Saturday became the first Colts quarterback since Mike Pagel in 1983 to start and finish a victory in which he threw for 57 or fewer yards. And, again: This team still won by double digits thanks to Taylor.

Second: Entering Saturday, Belichick's Patriots had faced 20 players who entered a game with 1,000 rushing yards that season. The Patriots were 18-2 in those games and held those 1,000-yard rushers to 72.5 yards per game. Taylor had well beyond double the maniacal average to which Belichick held some of the NFL's best running backs over the last two decades.

"He's unreal," Pinter said. "I'm saying what everyone already knows. But just his work ethic is second to none and the way he carries himself off the field. Everyone sees his success on the field but the way he carries himself and works off the field, it's no surprise that he's having this type of success. He's an amazing person, amazing player, amazing teammate."

So is this – 1,518 rushing yards and a new franchise record of 17 rushing touchdowns (and counting) – all worthy of Taylor blasting his way into the MVP conversation alongside the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Justin Herbert? That's for the rest of the football world to decide.

But the Colts know what they have in Taylor, and how important he is – and will be – to this team's chances of not only making the playoffs, but making a legitimate run later this winter.

And the thing that matters most to Taylor, which shouldn't surprise anyone reading about him at this point, is not an individual accolade.

"Only thing I'm thinking about," Taylor said, "is making sure we have one more point than our opponent when the clock hits zero."

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