Midway through the first quarter of Thursday night's primetime matchup against the New York Jets, Nyheim Hines took the handoff from Carson Wentz and found the hole to his right. With traffic closing in on him, but with a couple key blocks secured down the field, Hines suddenly darted to his left and outran three Jets defenders to the end zone to complete a sensational 34-yard rushing touchdown.
That play, which ended with a patented Hines back flip in the end zone, was just a little taste of what was to come the rest of the game.
Unleashing their two-headed monster at running back in Hines and Jonathan Taylor throughout the night, the Colts put in a historic effort on the ground in front of the home fans, running 30 times in all for 260 yards for a single-game franchise record 8.7 yards-per-carry average in their 45-30 victory over Jets.
The 260 rushing yards are the eighth most in a single game for the Colts since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, and the third most of the Frank Reich era (273 rushing yards Week 17 in 2020 and 264 rushing yards Week 11 of 2019).
"I mean, it takes a lot of pressure off the pass game when you can run like that," Reich told reporters after the game. "You could just feel it early. You could feel us dominating at the line of scrimmage early — I could feel that."
The Jets (2-6) actually came into Thursday night's game limiting opposing running backs to just 4.0 yards per carry, ranking seventh in the NFL in that category. The Colts (4-5) bucked that trend, however, earning big play after big play on the ground. In all, Indy had five running plays of 20 yards or more, including 78- and 21-yard rushing touchdowns by Taylor, and the aforementioned 34-yard score by Hines.
"Those chunk runs are huge," said Wentz, who completed 22-of-30 passes for 272 yards with three touchdowns to no interceptions on Thursday. "It's tough on a defense. They want to come out and play their soft zone coverage, make it hard for us in the passing game to get chunk plays, and so when you can get chunk plays on the ground, that's huge for us."
Taylor, who on Thursday was named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Month for October, certainly started his campaign for November Offensive Player of the Month off on the right foot. He had 19 rushing attempts in all for 172 yards and two touchdowns; his 172 rushing yards and 9.1 yards-per-carry average are both the second-best single-game figures in his young career, while his two rushing scores ties a single-game career best.
Taylor, who has been a home run threat the entire season, also showed off his wheels on his 78-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, reaching 22.05 mph, which is, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, the fastest speed by a ball carrier in the NFL this season.
"When (Taylor) gets to the second level, I feel like it's going to the house," Reich said. "I mean, he's just fast, strong and elusive. So he's playing really good. And our receivers really work hard down the field, so they're going to give him all the help he can have down there."
Not to be forgotten is the jack-of-all-trades Hines, who had 108 total yards of offense on the night, including six rushing attempts for 74 yards and a touchdown and four receptions for 34 yards, averaging better than a first down every time he touched the ball.
Just for good measure, Hines also added one punt return for 10 yards and a kickoff return for 15 yards.
"It's fun when you're going out there doing what you love and having fun," Hines said. "Every week we're all about setting the tone, so I'm happy this week I could set the tone and give some momentum."
After taking care of business in the short week, the Colts get a little extra time to rest up before their next contest, a Week 10 matchup at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Nov. 14.
For those wondering, the Jaguars, who hold a 1-6 record heading into this Sunday's matchup against the Buffalo Bills, are currently allowing just 3.7 yards per carry on the ground, third-best in the NFL.
At this rate, perhaps the Colts will be bucking that trend, too.