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Texans Key To Stopping Colts: Jonathan Taylor

Running back has been key to Indianapolis Colts all season

HOUSTON -- He glides with ease moving between the trenches. One quick cut and he's gone to the end zone. 

The Indianapolis Colts' offense isn't one dimensional, but it is run-heavy. Strike that. It's Jonathan Taylor-heavy. When he's successful on the ground, the Colts (6-6) postseason bound. 

Taylor is the key for the Houston Texans (2-9) when the Colts arrive Sunday at NRG Stadium. The numbers make that case. 

"We saw a stat this morning that when he rushes for over 100 yards this year, (the Colts) have won every game and when he hasn't they've lost," Texans coach David Culley said Wednesday. "Obviously, it's very important for our defense to have gap control." 

Taylor leads the NFL in rushing yards (1,205) and touchdowns (14), while ranking second in carries (209) behind Derrick Henry. The Tennessee star hasn't played since Week 8 after suffering a foot injury. 

To put into perspective how vital Taylor is to the Colts' success, he is the only running back through 11 weeks to surpass the 1,000-yard marker. The next active player in yardage is Cincinnati Bengals standout Joe Mixon with 924. 

"(Taylor is) a powerful runner with top-end speed," Houston rookie defensive tackle Roy Lopez said. "He can change direction and everything. 

"You have to be one of the 11 on the defense. Make sure you hit your gap when he comes to you." 

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All six wins by Indianapolis have come when Taylor hits triple digits, including a 145-yard, two touchdown performance against Houston in Week 6. Taylor, who has yet to rush for less than 50 yards in a game, is averaging 5.8 yards per run — tied for the most among players with at least 100 carries. 

Taylor also has found a knack for the end zone. He currently is riding on a nine-game scoring streak. Culley credits part of his success to the Colts' offensive line, which is helping the team average 144 yards rushing per game. 

"You have to have gap security," Culley said. "When you don't, guys like that will end up making you pay. He's done a really nice job at that." 

Houston's defense continues to struggle to defend the run on a consistent basis. After holding Tennessee to 103 rushing, the Jets racked up 157. 

Houston's inconsistencies against the run are a glaring need for the future of the organization. The team is 31st in run defense (135.6 yards per game) and allows opponents to average 4.5 yards per play.

Taylor nearly averages a yard more per snap, while leading the league in runs of more than 20 yards with 10. 

The Texans should back back to full strength on defense, with safety Justin Reid returning following his benching. Finding a way to stop the potential MVP candidate is easier said than done. 

Only five teams have held Taylor below the magic number. Of those defenses, four rank top 10 in stopping the run. 

"When you get out your gap against (Taylor), against this team with the way they run the football, things can happen," Culley said.