Five Things Learned

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5 Things Learned: Colts vs. Jets, Week 9

The Colts topped the New York Jets, 45-30, on Thursday Night Football to kick off Week 9. Get inside the Colts' primetime win with this week's installment of 5 Things Learned. 

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1. The Colts' explosive run game kept landing haymakers.

Through Week 9, the Colts are averaging about four explosive running plays (10+ yards gained) per game; Jonathan Taylor now leads the NFL with 24 runs of 10 or more yards. Against the Jets, Taylor had five runs of 10 or more yards and Nyheim Hines had three.

"We have a great line, a quarterback that gets us in the right runs, tight ends who are willing to block, receivers – Pitt, Pascal, Ashton Dulin – we have guys who are willing to help us out," Hines said. "So, it's not just us."

Those chunk gains on the ground added up as the game went on. Taylor's 78-yard touchdown was a highlight, but this three-play sequence with eight minutes left in the third quarter was significant, too:

  • Hines 25-yard run
  • Taylor 10-yard run (with a facemask penalty)
  • Carson Wentz pass to Danny Pinter for a touchdown

Hitting so many explosive runs – especially on consecutive plays – physically and mentally can wear down a defense.

"Those guys have to get up, tackle, pursue, get up, tackle, pursue and you can only dress so many D-linemen, they're going to have to keep rotating them out," center Ryan Kelly said. "It keeps the starters out there getting tired, and I'll always take a tired offensive line versus a tired defensive line."

Taylor said, too, he can sense the impact those big running plays have on an opponent.

"It kind of drains them," Taylor said. "I would think it drains them. It's like, 'Man, he just scored in one play and we didn't make them work for it.' It kind of takes the life out of them I would say. That's my perspective at least. You just try to get as many of those as you can in order to try and break their will. This game is about who's the toughest the longest."

And, again, it takes more than just the running back to generate explosive gains, and Taylor – like Hines – reserved a special shout-out to his wide receivers.

"The receivers are the guys who really get those explosive plays," Taylor said. "The line gets it going and they get you started, but the receivers are the guys who really spring you. It's a big testament to the type of receivers we have. You guys see them making plays down the field, through the air, but not a lot of people are noticing what they are doing on the run-game side."

2. Carson Wentz played well – again.

Wentz completed 22 of 30 passes for 272 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a new career high passer rating of 134.3. With the Colts just past the halfway point of the season now, here's where his stats stand after nine games:

  • 190/300 (63.3 completion percentage)
  • 2,198 yards (7.3 yards/attempt)
  • 17 touchdowns
  • 3 interceptions
  • 100.1 passer rating

There was only one pass Reich thought Wentz should've completed that he didn't against the Jets – a fourth quarter misfire that led an open Hines back toward the sideline for an incompletion instead of what might've been a 28-yard touchdown.

Other than that?

"He was flawless today," Reich said. "He was stinkin' flawless."

3. Wentz's impact extended beyond just the throws he made.

Remember the quote in Part 1 of this article where Hines said the Colts have a quarterback who can get them into the right runs?

Reich praised Wentz's "complete command of the offense," which showed in a few run checks he made at the line of scrimmage.

"Carson was really on point. I mean, really on point," Reich said. "A couple of checks, he did some things that weren't in the game plan to get us in some run checks. Got out of some plays, I think they gave us a couple different looks that once we got going, they were trying to make some adjustments to what we were doing, and Carson made a couple good checks there in the run game. 

One of those times, Kelly said, led to Taylor's 21-yard touchdown.

"It wasn't even part of the kill," Kelly said. "He saw it, recognized it, got us into the play and that's when we scored."

So when you hear players and coaches say that explosive runs take all 11 players on the field to happen, that absolutely includes the quarterback.

4. The Colts still need to finish better.

Reich's message to his team after Thursday's game was: "Hey, we're happy we played well on a short week but in all three phases, we need to finish better," he said. "So, we'll get back to work and try to get better."

After Taylor's 78-yard touchdown put the Colts up 42-10 midway through the third quarter, the Jets out-scored the Colts 20-3 over the final 20 minutes of the game. Jets quarterbacks Mike White (who left the game with a forearm injury in the first quarter) and Josh Johnson combined to complete 34 of 52 passes for 412 yards with four touchdowns and one interception, with most of that damage coming after the Colts' lead ballooned to 32 points.

But still, the Colts were not satisfied with how the game ended – even if the result was still a 15-point victory.

5. A few other players stepped up in primetime.

Recognizing some standout plays and players to wrap this up:

  • Defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth had two sacks and tipped the pass that Bobby Okereke intercepted to end the game. Stallworth, a four-year veteran, entered Thursday with 1 1/2 sacks in his career and was a dominant force in his 22 snaps.
  • A check-in on what wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who had five catches for 64 yards with a touchdown, is on pace for this season: 95 catches, 1,243 yards, 10 touchdowns.
  • While defensive end Kwity Paye didn't record a sack, he earned a career high 90.1 Pro Football Focus grade for his disruption against the pass and plays against the run. Paye generated nine pressures on his 44 pass rushing snaps.
  • Tight end Kylen Granson had a nice catch-and-run for 27 yards, the longest play of his career so far.
  • Wide receiver Dezmon Patmon, who was activated from injured reserve Thursday afternoon, made his season debut and recorded his first career catch.
  • Tight end Jack Doyle caught a touchdown for the second consecutive game, with this one coming on a shovel pass similar to the one Wentz had intercepted in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Rams.

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