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Jonathan Taylor helps Colts turn tables on Patriots in victory

The Colts' Jonathan Taylor (28) runs for a 67-yard touchdown with 2:01 left Dec. 18, 2021.
The Colts’ Jonathan Taylor runs for a 67-yard touchdown with 2:01 left to help seal a 27-17 victory over the Patriots on Saturday night.
(AJ Mast / Associated Press)

Jonathan Taylor ran for 170 yards and scored on a 67-yarder with 2:01 left to help the Indianapolis Colts seal a 27-17 victory over the New England Patriots on Saturday night.

The Colts (8-6) solidified their playoff hopes by winning for the fifth time in six games — and ending an eight-game losing streak to the rival Patriots (9-5).

Taylor has run for a touchdown in 11 consecutive games to tie Hall of Famer Lenny Moore for the longest streak in franchise history.

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“It was really just accepting the challenge, knowing it was going to be dogfight, knowing everything had to be earned,” Taylor said. “When you do that, that’s winning half the battle.”

Several Rams players came off the COVID-19 list on Saturday, but Joe Noteboom and Robert Rochell were added to the list ahead of Tuesday’s rescheduled game against the Seahawks.

New England had won seven straight and started the weekend in the top spot of the AFC playoff chase. But the Patriots could not overcome a 20-0 deficit because of too many uncharacteristic mistakes, including Taylor’s game-clinching run.

The game had a little bit of everything — drama, physical play, shouting matches, even a fight that led to the ejections of Patriots safety Kyle Dugger and Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.

But Indianapolis won this one by stealing a page out of Bill Belichick’s playbook — using the ground game to chew up the clock and closing it out with a back-breaking play in the waning minutes. It was the Colts’ first win over New England since 2009.

And yet it didn’t have to be this close.

The Colts and Taylor sent an early message by starting their second series with seven straight running plays before Taylor took a direct snap, handed off to quarterback Carson Wentz, and then Wentz flipped the ball to Nyheim Hines for an eight-yard scoring pass and a 7-0 lead.

Matthew Adams followed that by blocking Jake Bailey’s punt that E.J. Speed recovered in the end zone for a 14-0 lead — New England’s largest deficit since a Week 3 loss to New Orleans.

The Colts' E.J. Speed recovers a blocked punt in the end zone for a first-quarter touchdown.
Indianapolis’ E.J. Speed recovers a blocked punt in the end zone for a first-quarter touchdown.
(AJ Mast / Associated Press)

“It seems like they just had good force on the play,” New England special teams star Matthew Slater said. “That’s tough when you give up plays like that. It’s going to be hard to win. We spotted a team 20 points at their place. Good luck trying to win. There’s no excuse to play like that.”

The Colts added a 25-yard field goal before halftime and another early in the third quarter to make it 20-0.

Rookie quarterback Mac Jones finally got the Patriots going in the fourth quarter. He threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Henry, and after Nick Folk’s short field goal made it 20-10, Jones hooked up with Henry for a seven-yard scoring pass with 2:21 left.

In his first public comments since his firing, ex-Jaguars coach Urban Meyer apologized to Jacksonville and expressed regret in how his tenure unfolded.

Two plays later, Taylor eluded one tackle and sprinted to the front corner of the end zone.

Jones was 26 for 45 with 299 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions as he fell to 6-1 on the road this season.

Wentz was five for 12 with 57 yards with one touchdown and one interception as the Colts rushed for 226 yards in 39 carries.

Injury report

Patriots: Played without top rusher Damien Harris (hamstring) and lost linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (ankle) in the first half. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor left late in the third quarter because of a head injury. Agholor eventually was taken to the locker room.

Colts: Center Ryan Kelly missed his second straight game after being a late scratch. He was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday but was listed on the injury report with an injured knee and missed time because of a personal matter. Linebacker Darius Leonard left briefly in the first half because of a right shoulder or arm injury, and cornerback Xavier Rhodes walked off the field early in the fourth quarter.

Only unvaccinated players and those experiencing possible symptoms of COVID-19 will be tested under the NFL’s revised protocols.

Stat pack

Patriots: New England’s NFL record streak of scoring in the first half of 99 consecutive games ended. ... The Patriots also failed to score 30 points against Indianapolis for the first time in 10 games, leaving them in a tie with Kansas City, which did it nine straight times against Denver from 1964 to 1968 in the AFL. New England rushed 19 times for 81 yards. Henry had six catches for 77 yards.

Colts: Speed became the first NFL player to record two touchdowns off blocked punts in one season since Ed Reed in 2003. Taylor has rushed for 100 yards in eight of the last 11 games. Indianapolis added two more totals to its league-leading total and now has at least one takeaway in 15 consecutive games.

Up next

Patriots: Host Buffalo next Sunday.

Colts: At Arizona next Saturday night.


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