Taylor carries Colts to 28-14 win over Jaguars for playoff berth

Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts’ Jonathan Taylor (28) celebrates a touchdown with Mark Glowinski (64) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

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INDIANAPOLIS — Jonathan Taylor’s record-breaking 253-yard rushing performance carried the Colts to a 28-14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars and locked down a playoff berth for Indianapolis.

The Colts will travel to Buffalo next weekend to play the two-seed Bills in the AFC Wild Card round.

It was the Bills who cleared a path for the Colts to enter the postseason with a 56-26 victory over the 10-win Miami Dolphins. Still, the Dolphins’ loss meant nothing to Indianapolis unless the Colts took care of business against the 1-14 Jaguars, whose lone win came in week 1 vs the Horseshoe.

Indy scored the first 20 points of the contest and found themselves with a 20-7 lead at halftime. However, the offense for a consecutive week struggled in the second half and allowed the Jaguars back into the game.

Hearts of the Colts’ faithful were undoubtedly pounding at a furious pace as their team’s lead had shrunk to just 6 points with under 4 minutes left in the game. Could the Colts actually allow the playoffs to slip away at the hands of the lowly Jaguars?

When Indianapolis needed to make a play, it was the rookie Taylor who answered the call. JT broke a 45-yard run off the left side for his second touchdown of the day. Philip Rivers and T.Y. Hilton connected on a subsequent 2-point conversion attempt to take a 28-14 lead.

Darius Leonard and company then made one final stop to seal the deal for the home team.

Taylor’s day was one for the history books. His 253 rushing yards came on 30 carries — 8.4 yards per attempt — and broke Edgerrin James’ single-game, franchise record of 219 yards. Taylor also joined James, Marshall Faulk, Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes as the only Colts to rush for 1,000 yards in their rookie season. The 41st pick in April’s draft rushed for 1,169 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year.

On defense, Indianapolis kept pressure on quarterback Mike Glennon throughout and finished with a season-high 6 sacks. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner accounted for two of those sacks, giving him 9.5 on the season, a team-high.

As if anyone needed a reminder, Leonard showed why he is called the “Maniac.” The third-year linebacker racked up a game-high 10 total tackles, 2 passes defended, a sack and a forced fumble, which led to a Colts touchdown.

Coach Frank Reich will now prepare his squad for a road game against Josh Allen and the 13-3 Bills.

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