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Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in Orchard Park, New York.

Jonathan Taylor forced his named into a prominent position in the MVP conversation Sunday. But, as usual, the Indianapolis Colts running back was far more concerned with what his performance meant for his team.

Taylor complied more than 200 yards from scrimmage and set a franchise record with five touchdowns as the Colts dominated the Buffalo Bills 41-15 in Orchard Park, New York, to go over .500 for the first time this season.

“(Taylor’s) going crazy,” fellow Colts running back Nyheim Hines said. “I mean, yeah, he just sent a message to the league. It’s been amazing to watch him play. Like, for me, I had a day off today. I was his fan today.”

Hines had plenty of company.

Taylor became just the third player in NFL history to record a rushing touchdown and at least 100 yards from scrimmage in eight consecutive games – joining LaDainian Tomlinson (2006) and Lydell Mitchell (1975-76) – and he set another franchise record by reaching the 1,000-yard rushing mark on just 173 carries.

Taylor set a career high with 32 carries, gaining 185 yards and scoring four touchdowns – tying a single-game franchise record shared by Eric Dickerson and Joseph Addai. He also caught three passes for 19 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Carson Wentz.

He scored on runs of 3 and 2 yards in the first half – sandwiched around his touchdown reception – as the Colts (6-5) surged to a 24-7 halftime lead. His 10-yard touchdown run with 5:27 remaining in the third quarter made it 31-7 and essentially ended the competitive portion of the game.

Taylor’s fifth touchdown came on a 1-yard run with 58 seconds remaining in the third period.

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

The rest of the league quickly is learning why.

Taylor’s big day came against a Buffalo defense ranked No. 1 in the NFL both in total yards and points allowed, and it further established Indianapolis as one of the league’s most physical teams.

That’s been among the primary goals since general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich took stewardship of the franchise in 2018. The selection of Taylor with the 41st overall pick in the 2020 draft was a big part of the building process.

It wasn’t a universally praised selection. Indianapolis already had a 1,000-yard rusher on the roster in Marlon Mack, and there’s a school of thought that suggests no running back should be selected until the later rounds of the draft.

With Taylor currently leading the NFL with 1,122 rushing yards, it would be very difficult to find many remaining dissenters.

“It was all Chris Ballard,” Reich said of the running back’s selection. “There was no way that Chris Ballard wasn’t taking him. We all talked about a lot of other scenarios, and, yeah, Chris had his eye on JT from Day 1, and he never wavered from that. So – and I know it’s Chris and all his (scouting) staff – I talked to Chris every day. I know what he thought of Jonathan, and there was no way – if we wouldn’t have got (Taylor), it would have crushed him.”

Even a talent as immense as Taylor can’t win games alone, however, and for the second straight week, he got strong support from a rapidly improving defense.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen entered the game as a leading MVP candidate, but he finished 21-of-35 for 209 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Indianapolis cornerback T.J. Carrie also recovered a fumble on a kickoff return as the Colts won the turnover battle 4-0 against the league’s leader in turnover differential (+14) entering the week.

Cornerback Kenny Moore II and safety George Odum picked off Allen, and linebacker Zaire Franklin intercepted back-up quarterback Mitchell Trubisky who came on for the final two possessions.

It was an impressive performance against an offense that came in averaging 31.1 points per game, second in the NFL.

“Coming into this game, we had a lot of respect that we wanted to display,” Moore said. “So I feel like we got it done today. We just got to keep it going. It’s unfinished business. We got a lot of games left.”

Perhaps most impressively, Indianapolis snapped a streak of eight consecutive losses against 2020 playoff teams. Fittingly, it came in the same stadium where last season ended with a 27-24 loss in the wild-card round.

The Colts held double-digit leads against the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans earlier this season but lost both games in overtime.

A 14-0 first-quarter lead was cut to 14-7 against the Bills (6-4), but this game was rarely in doubt.

Taylor made sure of it.

“You don’t just go out there and wake up on Sundays and you flip a switch on it,” he said of the team’s performance. “That doesn’t work, not in this league. If you think that works in this league, then you won’t last that long. It takes consistent work and consistency in order to play at a high level.”

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