Bills defense has no answers for Colts RB Jonathan Taylor in blowout loss to Indy

Buffalo Bills

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) runs during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. The Colts won 41-15. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Even when the Bills knew what the Colts wanted to do offensively coming into this game, they still had no answer for it.

Jonathan Taylor ran all over the Bills defense rushing for 185 yards on 32 carries and four touchdowns. Taylor also had a touchdown catch for a total of five scoring plays in a 41-15 loss bringing the Bills to a 6-4 record.

“We can’t go out like that, you know we gotta stop the run, everything starts with stopping the run, affecting their quarterback and taking the ball away and we did none today, not one thing,” Bills safety Micah Hyde said after the game.

“Didn’t do well on third down, didn’t do well in the red zone, like I said didn’t take the ball away, didn’t put [Carson] Wentz in tough situations and they were able to run the ball. Give them too much yards on first and second down, the third-down they were getting the third and one, third and two, third and three, still able to run the ball. They’ve got a good run game so we weren’t able to stop it I mean that’s the formula for winning for them and it’s the formula for losing for us.”

Defensively at least for the Bills, this felt like a similar game to the loss in Tennessee when Derrick Henry rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns. Coming into the game the Bills allowed the third-fewest rushing yards per game but when faced against a back like Henry and Taylor, they couldn’t find a way to stop or at least contain their production.

“We felt like we have been doing pretty well stopping the run all season and obviously going against a guy like Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor, two very good backs. We gotta find a way to limit that,” Hyde explained.

“That’s a good football team but at the same time, we understand we’re a better football team than what we showed today. So it’s one of those you gotta take a look in the mirror, we’ve got a game on Thursday, short turnaround so we’re able to come back tomorrow and obviously the 24-hour rule and get ready to play on Thursday night,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said following Sunday’s loss.

Even head coach Sean McDermott admitted he is concerned about this aspect of his defense.

“Yeah I really do, we’ve gotta get that fixed. There’s a formula to win and there’s a formula on the other end of it too and when you’re giving up and we’re getting beat at the point of attack, obviously I’ve gotta do a better job there,” McDermott said during his postgame press conference.

This wasn’t the reason the Bills lost, but it certainly didn’t help that defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, one of their best run defenders, missed this game due to being on the Covid-19 list.

“Star’s a big part of our defense, big part of our team what he brings to our team is huge. Obviously, we wanna have a guy like him out there in a game like this where we know they’re gonna run the ball but we’re always preaching next man in. And we felt like whoever steps in is gonna go out there and compete. You guys have seen it plenty of times with the guys who do step in end up having big game,” Hyde said.

“Just unfortunately no one really played well today and I don’t think it was that position it was just everybody just didn’t play up to their capability.”

Other than that week six loss to the Titans, the Bills haven’t really had to worry about stopping the run much with Buffalo’s offense oftentimes able to get out to early leads. Therefore opposing teams are forced to pass the ball and can’t afford to run much having to play catch up.

The Bills also had trouble getting off the field on third down many times. The Colts converted eight out of twelve times on third down. And when Buffalo was able to stop them, at times they hurt themselves and kept Indy’s drives alive with penalties.

“We had a couple third-down stops I think and then penalties, I think it was two of them, gave them the third down. It’s brutal, you know finally, we get them in a situation where they have to pass the ball, we know it, we got some stops and then penalties hurt us so whenever you give up points in the red zone, don’t take the ball away, turn the ball over, don’t get off the field on third down, penalties, this is what’s gonna happen. Floodgates,” Hyde explained.

So now the Bills look to bounce back but have a quick turnaround as they head to New Orleans for a Thanksgiving night matchup against the Saints. And they could once again face another explosive running back with Alvin Kamara.

Buffalo could catch a break if Kamara misses his third straight game. He did not play the past two weeks dealing with a knee injury. Either way, stopping the run will be a big emphasis.

“There’s a mentality that comes with that, I would say it starts with the mentality and an attitude. And in a lot of ways it’s a one-on-one game and we talk about that as a team, it’s a one-on-one game, you’ve gotta win your one-on-one’s and then you’ve gotta tackle well. And I didn’t think we did either,” McDermott said.

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