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Colts' Jonathan Taylor misses out on fourth-and-1 chance after 188-yard rushing performance vs. Texans

Jonathan Taylor's game of the season was undone on a fourth-and-1 with the game on the line.

Going into Saturday night needing a win against the rival Texans for a playoff berth, the Colts rode Taylor and his 188 rushing yards to a near victory in a neck-and-neck contest against Houston, only to send him to the sideline for the game-deciding play.

With a six-point deficit and 1:06 remaining, the Taylor-less Colts drew up a quick Gardner Minshew pass in the flat to Tyler Goodson, a move that failed to gain the needed yard for a new set of downs and helped send Indianapolis to the couch for the duration of the playoffs.

"I felt good about Goodson in that situation," head coach Shane Steichen explained after the game. "He's a pass catcher for us out in the backfield and that's what we want."

It might have been the look the Colts wanted. It assuredly wasn't the result, however, and the missed opportunity torpedoed a storybook close to the regular season for Taylor that would've been hard to predict back in training camp and the early season.

As the perceived market for running backs continued to crater over last offseason, Taylor sought a new deal rather than playing out the final year of his rookie contract. He asked for a trade on July 29 when the team seemingly wouldn't budge, took several excused absences from camp and was finally given permission to seek a trade on Aug. 21.

But when no trade occurred, he started off the season on the physically unable to perform list stemming from offseason ankle surgery, and he wouldn't return until Oct. 7, when at long last the parties agreed on a three-year, $42 million extension.

Taylor played well at times upon his return, but he never looked to be the unstoppable star he had been during his 2021 All-Pro season.

That is, until Saturday night against the Texans.

The 24-year-old gashed the NFL's third-ranked rushing defense with repeated ease.

He rushed more times than either Minshew or the Texans' C.J. Stroud threw, turning 30 carries into 188 rushing yards -- more than Houston had allowed to any team in a game all season.

Taylor picked up 49 of those yards on a script-flipping run where he battled through a cluster of arms at the line of scrimmage and bounced outside for Indianapolis' first touchdown of the game.

It wasn't simply Taylor's performance, either, that was seemed movie-made.

He also suffered an ankle injury at the end of the third quarter and was doubtful return for half of the fourth before Indianapolis desperately needed its MVP.

The Texans had just gone up 23-17, but having missed the extra point, left the door open with 6:20 remaining.

Taylor ran through it, carrying the ball nine times as the offense milked five minutes off the clock during a march to Houston's 15-yard line.

Facing a fourth-and-1, Steichen took a timeout to think things over.

He then kept Taylor on the sideline as Minshew threw a tick behind Goodson, who played just five offense snaps and couldn't rescue the wayward pass for his first catch of the night.

"I'm equally responsible for that not working as he is," Minshew told reporters after Goodson took blame for the play. "We all have plays that we (wish) we could have back, because the last one doesn't really make it that much more significant. I told him that I'd go back with him every time. I'd throw that ball every time."

The Texans played keep-away the rest of the game, needing only to stop the Colts on a kickoff return following an intentional safety to ice the game.

Afterward, Taylor took a team view of the loss.

"It came down to a couple plays," he said. "That's playoff football. When it comes crunch time, you've got to make those plays. We got to make those plays. We've got to make them. You have to. That's playoff football. Playoff football are teams who make the most plays. We didn't make enough."

There's likely more than one play the Colts want back.

There's none more prominent than Indy's final offensive snap, though, especially in the context of Taylor's spectacular night.

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