Jonathan Taylor puts on old-school show in Colts’ big Week 11 win over Bills

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There was still time for the Bills to come back Sunday in sleety Orchard Park, N.Y., down 24-7 to the Colts early in the third quarter. Indianapolis had the ball, first down at the Buffalo 31, and coach Frank Reich loved this play-action call, and he called it. Incomplete. Penalty. The Colts got pushed out of field-goal range and had to punt. After the series was over, Reich decided to do something no coach in modern football does, and something he never does.

“Never, never, never,” Reich told me Sunday night.

“I decided I was going to run the ball on every first and second down from there on,” he said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Why?” he said. “Because every time we ran it, good things were happening. Every time we ran it, the pile was moving forward. And when you have Jonathan Taylor on your side, you know the pile’s going to keep moving.”

On the next 18 first and second downs, Reich was true to his words (almost perfectly). He called 17 runs on those 18 plays, and the lead ballooned to 41-15, and Taylor, mostly, bled the clock, finishing his 32-carry, 185-yard, five-touchdown day.

The Colts, in their most decisive win of the four-year Reich era, a win that catapulted them back into AFC South contention, had a 70-30 run-pass ratio while holding the ball for almost 38 minutes. Running it 70 percent of the time is unheard of in today’s football. The Colts played football the way Jim Brown and Jim Taylor used to: by imposing their will on the opponent. The Colts put up 41 points on a legit Super Bowl contender—and threw for a grand total of 106 yards along the way.

“This was an old-school football game,” Reich said.

And this was the coolest part: On the fourth play after Reich’s first-and-second-down run declaration, Indianapolis had a first down at midfield. Carson Wentz handed to Taylor, who burst off right tackle for 40 yards. First down now, at the Buffalo 10. As the playclock ticked down, Reich called another run, this time where Taylor could choose his own hole to the left. And he felt his coaches wondering, Aren’t you going to give him a break after running for 40? “Earlier in the season, he had an 83-yard run, and I gave it to him the next three plays, and we got a touchdown,” Reich said. “The coaches wondered about that, and I said, ‘If he was tired, he’d come out.’ “

The clock bled down to :03, :02, with Taylor a single back behind Wentz.

“Gotta go! Gotta go!” Wentz yelled, and the ball was snapped at :01.

From the 10, Wentz handed it to Taylor. At the 9, Taylor juked to the right of corner Levi Wallace, who went flying to the wet turf. Close to the goal line, there was safety Micah Hyde waiting for him. “That’s when you really have to dig deep,” Taylor told me from the locker room post-game. “When a play is perfectly designed, you usually have one man to beat. Here there was a second guy. So you have to fall back on the work you’ve put in, the study of that team during the week.”

Hyde’s a good safety, and here he was, waiting to end Taylor’s dance around the 3-yard line. Taylor whacked him in the helmet with the base of his right palm, a forceful stiff-arm, and Hyde went flying too, and Taylor juked to the left and scored.

Such a forceful, confident run, with a make-‘em-miss touch of Barry Sanders.

“We’re watching it,” Reich said, “and the whole sideline is saying, “Wow! How’d that happen!’ “

It happened because Taylor is as strong as he is shifty, as athletic as he is physical. The Colts are 6-5 this morning because of Taylor’s five-TD day in Buffalo, and because he has a coach willing to ride the hot hand, no matter how different the game is. Jonathan Taylor is the best back not named Derrick Henry in football, and because Henry is likely out for the rest of the regular season at least, Taylor owns the title. He is the best running back playing.

Indy GM Chris Ballard went to Wisconsin. He has a soft spot for Badgers. And when the 2020 draft came along, and Ballard thought he needed a franchise back, he and his scouting staff got fixated on the 5-10, 226-pound Taylor, who averaged 151 rushing yards in 41 games at Wisconsin—after, amazingly, bypassing a strong pitch from Harvard to play and study there. (Taylor was tempted.) Early in the second round of the draft, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire and D’Andre Swift gone and the Colts still seven or eight picks away from the spot they thought they’d take Taylor, 44th overall, owner Jimmy Irsay piped up.

“Uh, Chris,” Irsay, “you’ve been talking about this guy Jonathan Taylor all spring. Don’t you think you ought to go get him?”

Ballard obliged. He got on the phone, not really worried that Taylor would get plucked before 44, but understanding that a team that might love him could swoop in with a trade to get him. So he dealt his fifth-rounder to the Browns to move from 44 to 41 to pick Taylor. And everyone in the draft room, he said, exhaled.

“I’ve worked four drafts with Chris now, since 2018,” Reich told me. “And I don’t think there’s ever been a player he liked more than Jonathan Taylor.”

So much drama in Orchard Park on Sunday—good for the Colts, nightmarish for Buffalo. Think of Reich. Twenty-nine years ago, he was playing for the Bills as a backup quarterback (starter Jim Kelly was hurt) in the AFC wild-card game against Houston. Buffalo trailed 35-3 in the third quarter and won 41-38. Now, think of Reich the coach, going into Buffalo as a 5-5 team struggling to stay in the playoff race. And they skunked one of the teams favored to reach the Super Bowl, the same team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year.

Perhaps that’s why Reich stood in the middle of his players post-game and said this:

“I know we got a long way to go . . .”

Now screaming as loud as he can scream . . .

“BUT OH MY GOODNESS THAT FELT GOOD!!!!!!!”

Then Reich was about to give the game ball to Taylor, who ran for four touchdowns and caught a Wentz pass for a fifth, when he decided he wanted to make this a family affair.

“Can we do this together?” he asked his players, who roared in approval.

They started . . . “One! Two! Three! Four! Five” in unison. And when Taylor came for the ball, the players cried, “Speeeeech! Speeeeech!”

“Like we mentioned all week,” Taylor said, “we owed those dudes something.”

Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills
Colts running back Jonathan Taylor. (Getty Images)

Taylor’s a Jersey kid. When he was growing up, he loved space and sometime thought how fun it would be to travel through it. In high school, he was a late bloomer in football, to the point that Harvard coach Tim Murphy was convinced he had a good shot at winning a middling recruiting race for Taylor. But Taylor wanted to prove to himself he could be a great football player, and so he chose Wisconsin. “Once I got to high school and lifting weights and working at it, football grew on me,” Taylor said.

To the point that Ballard now calls him one of the five biggest offensive weapons in football. “It makes me want to go out every week and work hard so I can back him up,” Taylor said.

But 15 touchdowns now, and, barring injury, a great chance at winning a rushing title. Taylor is bright and optimistic, but he doesn’t love hearing how great he is.

“We know it’s a 1-0 mentality each week,” Taylor said. “Anytime you look too far ahead or reminisce in the past too long, that’s how you get lost in the sauce. So just understanding that we have the defending world champions coming up next week [Tampa at Indy next Sunday] and we have to take care of business to even think about our goals at the end of the year.”

But others will speak for him. “I was around Devin Hester in Chicago,” said Ballard, “and ever time he touched the ball, I thought he’d score. I’m feeling the same way about Jonathan.”

On one of Taylor’s five scores Sunday, tight end Mo-Alie Cox said:  “One play at the goal line I’m blocking and I turn my head and see him fly through the air like a f—ing superhero.” Get used to it. The Colts are going as far as Taylor can drag them.

Read more in Peter King’s Football Morning in America column

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

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The 2022 NFL Football season is finally back in session. This Sunday night features a match-up between Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers vs Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos. NBC and Peacock have got you covered with access to this week’s game as well as every Sunday Night Football game this season. See below for the complete 2022 Sunday Night Football schedule and find out how to live stream every game on Peacock.

RELATED: FMIA Week 2 – Mike McDaniel’s ‘F— It’ Play Powers Dolphins’ Comeback and How 49ers Adjust Without Trey Lance

This year’s Sunday Night Football coverage will feature Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth in the booth and Melissa Stark on the sidelines. Live coverage begins every Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America with the talented group of Maria Taylor, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Jason Garrett, Chris Simms, Jac Collinsworth, Mike Florio, and Matthew Berry. Berry, a fantasy football industry pioneer, will also appear on Peacock’s exclusive NFL post-game show, Sunday Night Football Final.

RELATED: How to watch Matthew Berry on NBC Sports

Football Night in America will also feature a weekly segment hosted by Simms and sports betting and Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule:

*Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Thursday, Sept. 8 (Week 1) – Josh Allen’s four touchdowns power Bills to 31-10 victory over Rams

Sunday, Sept. 11 (Week 1) – Bucs take care of business against Cowboys, who lose Dak Prescott late

Sunday, Sept. 18 (Week 2) Packers roll over Bears 27-10 as Aaron Jones, Preston Smith star

Sunday, Sept. 25 (Week 3) – 49ers at Broncos

Sunday, Oct. 2 (Week 4) – Chiefs at Buccaneers

Sunday, Oct. 9 (Week 5) – Bengals at Ravens

Sunday, Oct. 16 (Week 6) – Cowboys at Eagles

Sunday, Oct. 23 (Week 7) – Steelers at Dolphins

Sunday, Oct. 30 (Week 8) – Packers at Bills

Sunday, Nov. 6 (Week 9) – Titans at Chiefs

Sunday, Nov. 13 (Week 10) – Chargers at 49ers

Sunday, Nov. 20 (Week 11) – Bengals at Steelers

Thursday, Nov. 24 (Week 12) – Patriots at Vikings

Sunday, Nov. 27 (Week 12) – Packers at Eagles

Sunday, Dec. 4 (Week 13) – Colts at Cowboys

Sunday, Dec. 11 (Week 14) – Chiefs at Broncos

Sunday, Dec. 18 (Week 15) – Patriots at Raiders

Sunday, Dec. 25 (Week 16) – Buccaneers at Cardinals

Sunday, Jan. 1 (Week 17) – Rams at Chargers

Sunday, Jan. 8 (Week 18) – Matchup TBD

 RELATED: How to watch 49ers vs Broncos – Live stream, TV Channel, Game Preview


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

RELATED: PFT’s Week 3 2022 NFL power rankings

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: PFT’s Week 2 2022 NFL picks


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

How to watch San Francisco 49ers vs Denver Broncos: TV, live stream info, preview for Sunday Night Football game

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It’s the San Francisco 49ers vs the Denver Broncos this Sunday, September 25 at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock with Football Night in America. See below for additional information on how to watch the game.

Starting this week, Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

RELATED: FMIA Week 2 – Mike McDaniel’s ‘F— It’ Play Powers Dolphins’ Comeback and How 49ers Adjust Without Trey Lance

Be sure to start your NFL Sunday with Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Football Pregame show beginning at 11 AM ET on Peacock and the NFL on NBC YouTube channel.

RELATED: Jimmy Garoppolo made an extra $350,000 on Sunday, and it could happen more often

San Francisco 49ers

After falling 19-10 in their season opener against the Chicago Bears, The San Francisco 49ers (1-1) bounced back in week 2 with a dominant 27-7 victory over the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday afternoon. However, the team lost starting QB Trey Lance in the process. Lance, who went 3rd overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, was carted off the field in the 1st quarter with a broken ankle that will require season-ending surgery. Jimmy Garoppolo is now back in the starting spot after the 49ers spent the majority of this offseason trying to trade him. San Francisco gave Garoppolo permission to seek a trade in July but ended up restructuring his contract with the intent of keeping him as the backup behind Lance.

RELATED: Trey Lance – I will be back better than ever

Garoppolo finished 13-of-21 for 154 passing yards with 1 passing touchdown and also rushed for a touchdown in Sunday’s win. While he was proud of his performance, Garappolo said the win was bittersweet.

“It felt good to be back out there. I feel terrible for Trey. I’ve been on that side of it. This league is tough.” Garoppolo told reporters at 49ersWebzone.com. “Everyone has their share of injuries but that sucks for him. I feel bad for him but he’s our brother and we’ll pick him up. . . . I’m comfortable here. The players, the scheme, all that stuff, the locker room, I’m comfortable. I’m familiar with it. I’m not saying I knew this was going to happen but I was ready for this in case it did happen and just want to take advantage of the opportunity.”

RELATED: Jimmy Garoppolo – Return to 49ers offense just like riding a bike

Denver Broncos

Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos (1-1) picked up their first victory of the season last Sunday with an ugly 16-9 win over the Houston Texans. The Broncos’ offense struggled for most of the game and first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett once again received criticism and even boos from the crowd for some questionable plays. Hackett, the former offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers (2019-2021) under Matt LaFleur, told reporters after the game that he will work to make his playcalling more efficient.

“I think I just need to be sure I clean up exactly what I’m hearing, where I’m going with, and make sure I’m on the same page for Russ. I think that will make us more efficient. ”

RELATED: Nathaniel Hackett – I need to do better making faster and quicker decisions

Wilson finished 14-of-31 passes for 219 yards, with one touchdown, one interception, and three sacks in Sunday’s win. The 9-time Pro-Bowler and 2014 Super Bowl Champion signed a 5-year, $245 million extension with the Broncos earlier this month making him the second highest paid player in the league in terms of average annual salary ($49M). The franchise is hoping the veteran QB can help lead the Broncos to their first playoff appearance since 2015.

RELATED: Russell Wilson – There will be tough times, all that matters is the win


How to watch the San Francisco 49ers vs Denver Broncos:

  • Where: Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado
  • When: Sunday, September 25
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the San Francisco 49ers vs Denver Broncos game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your NFL jersey and gear needs ahead of the 2022 season, click here!


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!