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The Buccaneers entered Week 12 with their dominant run defense allowing the fewest such yards in the NFL by 93.

Explosive second-year back Jonathan Taylor entered Week 12 as the NFL’s leading rusher by a wide margin, gaining 185 more yards than next closest player Derrick Henry (yeah, he’s still up there).

The Colts’ offensive line has been outstanding this season, and Taylor’s ability to quickly jump gaps, run through tackles, and hit home runs make him a dangerous cutback runner in Indy’s zone-heavy run scheme.

Each team had a tall task in dictating the flow of the game by winning the trenches, and neither disappointed.

The Buccaneers tried making Taylor play one-handed by taking away the cutback lanes. They did this by slanting their defensive line to the field anytime the Colts were on a hash to create traffic backside.

Inside linebackers would then flow play side to shut down gaps or let DL cause chaos upfront and patiently wait for Taylor to come to them.

Arguably the toughest defensive assignments fell to edge defenders and box safeties, who were responsible for keeping Taylor inside the tackles and bringing him down from difficult angles.

Their plan was mostly successful and Tampa dominated the 1st half, thriving out of a base 3-4 that held Indy to two successful runs on seven carries.

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The Buccaneers’ interior defensive line took over the opening quarter, with Vita Vea and William Gholston in particular building walls and causing disruption upfront.

Momentum began to shift in the 2nd quarter when the Colts went away from heavier personnel groupings in favor of 3-receiver sets. The Buccaneers responded with their traditional 4-2 front, which swaps an interior defensive lineman for an extra defensive back.

With fewer 300+ pounders clogging the middle, the Colts were able to seal defensive tackles inside, exploit Tampa’s aggressive inside linebackers, and create cutback lanes for Taylor.

The Colts’ lead back didn’t get a 3rd quarter carry, which HC Frank Reich partially attributed to RPOs that were called runs but resulted in passes. However, Indy used the personnel mismatch they’d found earlier to recharge the ground game on their penultimate drive.

Indy called three consecutive zone runs from 11 personnel to get the ball past midfield, with Taylor netting an explosive gain on a pin-pull concept.

When the Colts returned to multiple tight-end sets past midfield, they used a couple plays the Buccaneers hadn’t seen all day for two more explosive gains.

The Buccaneers defense tightened up to stop the Colts on two red zone carries, but Taylor got the last laugh, running behind great blocking and running through Antione Winfield Jr. for Indy’s final score of the game.

Credit to Frank Reich, his staff, and above all the Colts’ players for adjusting to get their best skill player involved.

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