Jonathan Taylor injects himself into NFL’s MVP discussion

Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS – Maybe Nyheim Hines is lobbying to spearhead Jonathan Taylor’s PR firm.

In the aftermath of the Indianapolis Colts’ 41-15 blowout of Buffalo at Highmark Stadium Sunday in Orchard Park, N.Y., Hines beat the drum long and loud for his record-setting teammate.

Can you say MVP candidate?

“It hasn’t come up?’’ Hines asked with a smile. “So, who’s in the conversation?’’

A reporter mentioned most MVP talk centers around quarterbacks: Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers. The last non-QB to be named MVP: running back Adrian Peterson in 2012. Before that, running back LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006 and Shaun Alexander in ’05.

“Quarterbacks? OK, I can understand that,’’ Hines said. “But if there’s any skill position, Jonathan Taylor needs to be in it. He and (Rams’ wideout) Cooper Kupp.

“I know Cooper Kupp is having a great year, too. But JT is first in line for non-quarterback players.’’

Taylor’s candidacy undoubtedly received a boost after running all over the Bills’ No. 1-ranked defense. He finished with 185 yards and four touchdowns on a career-high 32 carries and added 19 yards and another TD on three receptions.

The five TDs are a Colts’ record and one short of matching the NFL single-game record.

Taylor’s individual brilliance was and has been evident, but he’s done everything without drawing attention to himself.

“I love him,’’ coach Frank Reich said. “We try to put attention on him and you can tell he’s uncomfortable. I love that feeling.’’

“You get a sense of his confidence, but you’d never know,’’ quarterback Carson Wentz said. “You’d never know he was a superstar walking by him in the locker room or in the grocery store, whatever. He’s just a low-key guy, but he knows what he can do and he’s confident in himself.

“I think you keep seeing more and more confidence in his ability, really obviously running the football but catching the ball out of the backfield, pass protection, all of that. And every game it just looks like he’s getting better and better.’’

Consider some of the Taylor-related tidbits following the Bills game. He:

  • joined Tomlinson (2006) and Lydell Mitchell (1975-76) as the only players in NFL history with eight consecutive games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage and a rushing TD.
  • became the first player in league history with 175-plus rushing yards, four rushing TDs and one receiving TD.
  • rushed for at least 100 yards for a third straight game and the sixth time in the last eight. The last time a Colt had a streak of three 100-yard games: Edgerrin James in 2005 (five straight).
  • boosted his season total to a league-best 1,112 with his 185-yard salvo against Buffalo, which is the 8th-most in franchise history.
  • became the fourth player in team history to crack the 1,000-yard mark in each of his first two seasons. He joins Marshall Faulk (1994-95), James (1999-2000) and Joe Addai (2005-06).

Taylor can credit his offensive line – the run game averaged 5.7 yards per attempt – and the blocking of the tight ends and wideouts.

Tight end Mo Alie-Cox enjoys it whenever Taylor breaks the line of scrimmage and gets into space for a long run, and had a close-up view of Taylor’s over-the-top 2-yard TD late in the second quarter.

“You see him get past that first level and you know he’s got a chance to score every time,’’ Alie-Cox said. “The one play at the goal line, I’m blocking and I just turned my head and I just see him flying through the air like an (expletive) superhero in the end zone.

“It was crazy.’’

So was the running game as a whole.

The Colts now have posted the two top run games in the NFL this season: 264 against the Bills and 260 against the New York Jets in week 9.

Playing takeaway

The game featured the NFL’s top two teams in the influential takeaway-giveaway category. The Bills were a plus-14 with a league-high 24 takeaways while the Colts were next at a plus-11 and 21 takeaways.

Advantage: Colts.

The Colts didn’t turn the ball over for a third straight game and the fifth time this season. Meanwhile, the Bills suffered four turnovers: three interceptions and a lost fumble on a kickoff return.

As they’ve done all season, the Colts cashed in. They came away with touchdowns on the first three takeaways and were content to work the clock following Zaire Franklin’s interception late in the fourth quarter.

For the season, the Colts have scored a league-high 98 points on their 25 takeaways.

The defense has generated at least one takeaway in 12 straight games, the NFL’s longest active streak.

Badgley still perfect

Michael Badgley remained perfect since taking over placekicking duties for injured Rodrigo Blankenship.

Badgley converted 36- and 35-yard field goals and all five PATs.

On the season, he’s 9-for-9 on field-goal attempts and 24-for-24 on PATs.

Blankenship remains on the injured reserve list after sustaining a hip injury at Baltimore in week 5. Coach Frank Reich said Blankenship still is working on his “strength and stamina,’’ but is ready to kick.

But the Colts are sticking with Badgley.

Listen to the Colts Blue Zone Podcast for weekly coverage and analysis of the Indianapolis Colts.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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