Following the Indianapolis Colts' season-ending loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon, Zack Moss approached every one of his offensive teammates in the Lucas Oil Stadium locker room, leaving them with a dap and a hug.
Acquired Nov. 1 in a trade with the Buffalo Bills, Moss hadn't spent a full season with his new Colts teammates, yet the third-year pro out of Utah appreciated the efforts of those with whom he was able to build some momentum over the final few weeks of the season.
It all culminated in a career day for Moss against the Texans, as he finished with 18 carries for 114 yards (6.3 avg.) and a touchdown in the Colts' narrow 32-31 loss.
"Since I've been here, a couple months now, I think we've just made steps, each and every week," Moss said. "We're a young team with a lot of good vets mixed in. We've got a lot of good pieces. I can't wait to get a full season with these guys and continue to see us grow and get to where we want to be at."
The 5-foot-9, 205-pound Moss entered the NFL with the Bills as a third-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. In 31 games as part of a talented Buffalo backfield, Moss had 225 total carries for 917 yards (4.1 avg.) with eight touchdowns, as well as 44 receptions for 319 yards and another two scores.
With versatile back Nyheim Hines looking for a change of scenery, the Colts would acquire Moss and a conditional 2023 sixth-round pick from the Bills in exchange for Hines on Nov. 1, just before the end of the trade deadline. Since making his Indianapolis debut 13 days later against the Las Vegas Raiders, Moss has slowly seen more and more action with the Colts' offense — with his role accelerated even more after a season-ending injury suffered by starting running back Jonathan Taylor — and headed into Sunday's season finale having averaged 17 carries for 73 yards (4.3 avg.) over his previous three games.
Earning his third straight start on Sunday, it didn't take long for Moss to get going. His first carry, on the Colts' second offensive play from scrimmage, was schemed up perfectly, as Moss used some terrific blocks up front to break free for a 34-yard gain — the second-longest run of his career.
Moss went into halftime having earned 47 rushing yards on six carries (7.8 avg.).
"I've been close the last few games," Moss said of that early success. "So, I was wanting to go out with a bang in this one, and I really wanted to just do my job, do my part, and execute as much as possibly could. And I felt I sparked a lot of the guys and things like that. We pride ourselves on that in our room, so that's always our standard."
Moss' second highlight play — much more of an individual effort — came about midway through the third quarter.
The Colts were trailing 17-7 and needing a spark in the worst way. After getting as far as the Houston 15-yard line, the Colts lined up for a 2nd-and-8 play. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger, lined up under center, handed the ball off to Moss to his left, who made one cut but was seemingly stopped by multiple Texans defenders after a gain of about three yards.
But Moss had other plans. Using his blend of power, balance and technique, he somehow sprung himself out of grasp of the Houston defense and bolted forward, carrying defensive back Tremon Smith with him into the end zone for his first Colts touchdown.
The Colts would cut the Texans' lead to just three, 17-14, at that point, sparking a competitive back-and-forth between the two teams the rest of the way.
"That's just the way I pride myself on running the ball — being downhill, just determined to get in the end zone," Moss said of the play. "Really, the guys did a good job of pushing me in at the back end of that. And the game changed from there. We kept saying, 'We need to make a play. We need to make a play.' They gave me an opportunity to make a play, and I just tried to do my job."
Signed with the Colts through the 2023 season, Moss said he's happy to be adjusted to life in his new surroundings, and can't wait to hit the refresh button with his Indy teammates this offseason.
"We've got a lot of talent, so it's going to be good to see how everybody comes back during the offseason, because I know everybody's going to work and then get this thing rolling," he said.