11/29 01:26 CST Analysis: The pass seduces even the NFL's best run teams
Analysis: The pass seduces even the NFL's best run teams
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer
Throwing the football in the NFL is so alluring it can seduce even the best run
The Indianapolis Colts forgot they have Jonathan Taylor after relying on Carson
Wentz's arm to build a 10-point halftime lead against the defending Super Bowl
The Philadelphia Eagles climbed into the playoff race because of a potent
rushing attack and let Jalen Hurts throw it away against the Giants.
The Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns combined for five turnovers on pass
plays in the second quarter Sunday night. Lamar Jackson threw three picks.
Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Jarvis Landry fumbled on sacks.
If the Ravens didn't play against the Browns, the NFL's five top running teams
would've lost in Week 12. The Tennessee Titans, who entered with the league's
fifth-ranked rushing offense, kept rolling on the ground with 270 yards, but
they were blown out by the Patriots 36-13.
Most baffling was the Colts' play calling in the second half.
Facing the league's stingiest run defense, Indianapolis couldn't get Taylor
going early. The Buccaneers (8-3) weren't going to allow Taylor, the league's
first 1,000-yard rusher this season, to beat them. They dared the Colts to
throw, and Wentz responded with three perfect touchdown passes in the first
half for a 24-14 lead.
The Colts (6-6) got the ball to start the third quarter and kept on throwing.
Wentz dropped back on 26 straight plays at one point, including the final eight
plays in the second quarter. The results in the second half were disastrous.
Shaquil Barrett's strip-sack of Wentz led to a touchdown for Tampa Bay. Wentz
then threw a pick on a deep ball in which Antoine Winfield Jr. made a leaping
grab over Michael Pittman Jr. That led to another touchdown for the Bucs.
When the Colts finally handed it to Taylor again in the fourth quarter, he
gained 58 yards on eight carries, including a game-tying TD. But Tom Brady then
led the Buccaneers on the winning drive with Leonard Fournette scoring his
fourth TD of the game for a 38-31 victory.
Why didn't Taylor run the ball on the first three possessions of the second
"We were rolling," Colts coach Frank Reich said. "We tried to run it in the
first quarter, this is the No. 1 run defense, and we weren't getting anything.
We tried throwing in the second quarter and started having a lot of success.
Carson was hot. Called a bunch of RPOs that got to throws because they were
throw reads. We come out in the third quarter, we move the ball well in the
third quarter. We moved down there twice, we're moving it well."
The Colts became enamored with the pass because it was working, but the
turnovers ended up hurting them. Perhaps, giving the ball to Taylor in the
third quarter would've allowed Indianapolis to extend the lead and avoid those
"When we turn it over, it gives them life," Reich said. "That's No. 1. No. 2,
they have Tom Brady."
Reich's former offensive coordinator, Nick Sirianni, helped the Eagles turn
things around this season after he committed to the run. The first-year coach
guided Philadelphia (5-7) to three wins in the last four weeks with a heavy
emphasis on the run, led by Hurts. But against New York, the Eagles moved away
from it for stretches. Hurts threw 31 passes and was picked three times,
including twice in the red zone. He had a chance at the end to win it, but
Jalen Reagor couldn't make a catch near the goal line and the Giants held on
for a 13-7 win.
When the Eagles ran, they had success, racking up 208 yards on the ground. They
just didn't run it enough to beat the Giants (4-7).
"When you turn the ball over three times, there are different things at play
there, but not a winning performance," Sirianni said. "Running the ball was
The Ravens (8-3) defeated the Browns (6-6) 16-10 despite a career-worst four
interceptions by Jackson. Cleveland entered with the league's No. 1 rushing
offense, but handed the ball to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt just 15 times while
Mayfield made 37 passes.
As the weather gets colder in December, running teams will have to do what they
do best to win.
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