New England won its last game while attempting just three passes, so Mac Jones’ arm figures to get more work when the Patriots visit the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC showdown on Saturday night.
Jones doesn’t quibble with workloads and is more focused on trying to help New England (9-4) win its eighth consecutive game. The Patriots can clinch a playoff spot this weekend with a win and a combination of losses by multiple AFC contenders.
Still, a quarterback going 2-for-3 passing for 19 yards in the 14-10 win over the Buffalo Bills in frigid conditions on Dec. 6 seems more like something from the 1940s version of the NFL.
“I’m just trying to win,” Jones said. “It was good that we scored more than the other team, and we did a great job on offense.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you run it or throw it. As long as you win, everyone’s going to be happy.”
The Patriots racked up 222 yards on the ground in the key victory that preceded a bye. New England holds a two-game lead over the Bills in the AFC East race with four games to play.
Jones, a first-round pick (15th overall) in the 2021 draft, has been solid with a 70.3 percent completion rate to go with 2,869 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
The Colts (7-6), who have won four of their past five games, are excelling on the ground behind NFL-rushing leader Jonathan Taylor.
Taylor has 1,348 rushing yards and also leads the NFL with 16 rushing touchdowns. He has topped 100 yards in all seven of Indianapolis’ victories.
Taylor has 18 total touchdowns, two shy of the franchise mark set by Baltimore Colts legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Lenny Moore in 1964.
Taylor said he isn’t worrying about records, accolades or stats.
“It’s not like track and field where I’m lining up, it’s just me and I’m racing the other guys next to me,” Taylor said. “It takes all 11 guys on the field in order to have a play go. All it takes is one guy to not be on for a play to crumble.
“That’s why I try and go out there every single play and make sure that I’m on, because I trust and truly believe that every single guy on that field, all 10 other guys are doing their job to a ‘T.'”
The Patriots rank 19th against the run, allowing 114.5 yards per game, so limiting Taylor will be a mighty challenge.
“Taylor’s a home run hitter, he’s a guy that’s not afraid of contact,” New England safety Adrian Phillips said. “You can see as the game keeps going he just gets more physical and if people don’t want to hit when it comes to the third or fourth quarter … he’s going to attack you.”
Taylor’s rise has helped quarterback Carson Wentz, who is having a strong season with 2,948 yards, 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
The Colts also feature one of the NFL’s top defensive players in linebacker Darius Leonard, who has 97 tackles, five forced fumbles and two interceptions.
Indianapolis allowed just 141 total yards (84 rushing, 57 passing) last Sunday while rolling to a 31-0 road win over the Houston Texans.
The Colts will be looking to end an eight-game losing skid against New England, a streak that includes playoff losses in the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
“I don’t want our players to get too caught up in the past,” Indianapolis coach Frank Reich said. “I do want them to understand that it is a big deal here.”
The Colts will get two-time Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly back. Kelly missed the game with Houston after being placed on the COVID-19 list. He was removed from that list on Tuesday and was a full practice participant on Wednesday while being listed with a knee injury.
Tight end Jack Doyle (ankle) was limited while linebacker Bobby Okereke (illness) sat out for Indianapolis.
Jones (left thumb) practiced in full for New England, while Phillips (knee), center David Andrews (shoulder) and running back Damien Harris (hamstring) were among players who were limited.
–Field Level Media