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‘Hard Knocks’ Power Rankings: Frank Reich and Jonathan Taylor big winners in Week 2 of Colts in-season series

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What a week for the Indianapolis Colts, who went over the .500 mark for the first time this year after a 41-15 blowout victory over the Buffalo Bills. The Colts are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, winning five of their last six after a 1-3 start. Indianapolis has the look of a playoff team, even if the Colts are not among the seven teams in the AFC playoffs after 11 weeks.

This week’s “Hard Knocks” showcased the Colts preparation for the showdown against the Bills, and all the factors that led to the convincing victory. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and head coach Frank Reich were featured on Episode 2, two of the easy winners from a big week in Indianapolis.

Winner: Frank Reich  

Reich coming back to Buffalo is more emotional for him than he makes it out to be. The emotion on Reich’s face after the Colts blow out the Bills put a lot of emotion on Reich’s face after his team played well for all 60 minutes. Reich even received the game ball for how his team performed.

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“There’s no other group of men I’d rather be with. This is a special group of men,” Reich said. “We’ve been saying it all year, and it’s just starting to come together.”

Reich admitted he’s come back to Buffalo enough as a player and coach that the emotions leading up to the game are nearly gone, but beating the team he became a folk hero with — and the one that knocked the Colts out of the playoffs last year — was special for him. 

The Colts made their own memories in Buffalo, just like Reich did when he played for the Bills. Buffalo fans still cheer for Reich when he returns. 

Winner: DeForest Buckner

Buckner was the player profiled by HBO this week. The Colts defensive tackle had the opportunity to meet Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith — who was having dinner with Reich the night before the game. Smith and Reich were teammates on the Bills in their heyday when they were winning four consecutive conference championships. 

Both Reich and Smith were sitting with special teams ace Steve Tasker (who Buckner apparently didn’t know) when Buckner arrived at the table. The Colts Pro Bowl defensive tackle was honored to meet Smith, who had a huge compliment for him after the exchange.

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“He’s a good one,” Smith says to Reich.

“That guy right there, he’s the real deal,” Reich responds back to Smith. “In every way.”

Fans may want to ask Stewart for an invite to watch “Thursday Night Football” next week. The Colts defensive tackle makes some good barbeque chicken, formulated with a sauce that includes a lot of Sweet Baby Ray’s barbeque sauce, butter, and a dash of soda. Stewart may be one of the few people to season his chicken in his sink — or to get “all the seasoning on it.” 

“I just put whatever in it to make it taste good,” Stewart said. The reviews from the Colts defense showcased how good Stewart’s chicken was. 

Taylor’s career day (five touchdowns) showcased how special Sunday’s win was for Reich, a man doesn’t show a lot of emotion. Colts owner Jim Irsay only popped in once this episode, congratulating Taylor on his franchise record. Not only did Taylor tie Eric Dickerson and Joseph Addai (four) for the most rushing touchdowns in a single game in team history, he’s the first player in Colts franchise history to score five touchdowns in a game. 

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Taylor received a surprise message from a Colts legend immediately after the win. 

“I texted Edgerrin (former Colts and Hall of Fame running back Edgerrin James) during the game,” Irsay said. “He’s a big fan of yours.”

Taylor’s big day may have been started when he saw Marshawn Lynch coming out of the tunnel in pregame. Taylor easily spotted the former Bills and Seahawks running back and said to him he had “much respect.” Lynch replied “Go do your s—.” 

Easy to see how that would propel Taylor to have a huge afternoon. 

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Jacobs, defence lead Raiders to first win of season over Broncos

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Just when it looked as if the Las Vegas Raiders might blow another fourth-quarter lead, they put the ball in the hands of Josh Jacobs and the running game to finish off the Denver Broncos.

The emphatic game-sealing drive gave Josh McDaniels his first win as a head coach since being fired by Denver in 2010 and backed up the message he gave his players all week.

“He said it to the offense and defense: You should want the burden to finish the game, not hoping that someone else does their thing or they they fix the problem,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “Whatever the game asked for, it’s our turn to do our job.”

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The Raiders did just that. Jacobs ran for a career-high 144 yards and two touchdowns, Amik Robertson returned a fumble 68 yards for a score and the Raiders beat the Broncos 32-23 on Sunday.

After opening their first season under McDaniels by losing three straight one-score games, including a blown 20-point lead to Arizona in Week 2, the Raiders (1-3) managed to do enough on the ground and on defense to hold off Russell Wilson and the Broncos (2-2).

“We kind of had the mindset we wanted this to be a physical game and leaned on Josh and the running game a little bit more than what we have and really established that,” McDaniels said. “Our goal was to try to make it that kind of game and make it a fourth-quarter game.”

Maxx Crosby had two of Las Vegas’ three sacks, and Robertson had the game-changing play late in the first half as Denver repeatedly failed to take advantage of good field position.

After getting a 5-yard TD pass from Wilson to Courtland Sutton to cap a 34-yard drive in the first quarter, the Broncos turned three other chances with prime field position into one field goal and the fumble by Melvin Gordon III that Robertson returned for the touchdown.

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Wilson had his most efficient game of his short tenure in Denver, completing 17 of 25 passes for 237 yards and two TDs. He also ran for a 3-yard TD that cut the Raiders’ lead to 25-23 after completing a 55-yard pass to KJ Hamler.

But Denver scored only once on six drives in the second half.

“We have to get better,” first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett said. “Across the board as an offense, I think we will.”

Jacobs put it away with a 7-yard TD run with 2:01 to play. He became the first Raiders player to rush for at least 130 yards and two TDs in a game since Darren McFadden did it in 2011 against the Jets.

“We had to go down there and call game,” Crosby said. “Josh Jacobs is a damn baller. That’s been my brother since day one. I’m so happy for him. He went down there and closed the game.”

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Carr didn’t have to do much for the Raiders, completing 21 of 34 passes for 188 yards as Las Vegas got the running game going for the first time this season. Davante Adams had nine catches for 101 yards.

Jacobs scored on a 10-yard run in the second quarter and set up a field goal in the third with a 42-yard run that was his longest since his rookie season in 2019.

The Raiders finished with 212 yards rushing for their most in a game since getting 218 against the Broncos in 2016.

“He’s one of the best runners that I’ve ever been around,” McDaniels said about Jacobs. “I’ve been around some good ones. He has a great ability to make yards after contact. He has a great ability to make yards even if there’s not a whole lot there right away.”

SURPRISE SCORE

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The Raiders’ defense got into the scoring mode for a change when Duron Harmon forced Gordon’s fumble and Robertson took it to the end zone.

It was the first TD by the Raiders’ defense or special teams since Erik Harris had a pick-6 against the Chargers on Nov. 7, 2019. The 43 regular season games without one was the second longest of the Super Bowl era, trailing only a 49-game streak by the Browns from 1979-82.

The play came shortly after Broncos receiver Jerry Jeudy motioned at the 5-foot-8 Robertson that he was too short to cover him.

“Once he started talking, it kind of elevated my play,” Robertson said.

NOT SO SPECIAL

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Both teams had their issues on special teams with Tyron Johnson botching a punt return that backed the Raiders up near their goal line in the first quarter.

Las Vegas also set up Denver with good field position when a surprise onside kick failed.

Both teams also missed extra points in the second quarter with Daniel Carlson missing his first kick of any kind this season for the Raiders and Denver’s Brandon McManus missing his second in the past two seasons.

INJURIES

Broncos: RB Javonte Williams and edge rusher Randy Gregory both left the game with knee injuries in the second half and will have MRIs to determine the severity. … S P.J. Locke and LB Aaron Patrick left the game with concussions.

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Raiders: LB Denzel Perryman left with a concussion in the first half.

UP NEXT

Broncos: Host Indianapolis on Thursday night.

Raiders: Visit Kansas City on Monday, Oct. 10.

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FOX Bet Super 6: Three contestants win Terry Bradshaw's $1,000,000 prize

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Three contestants won a piece of Terry Bradshaw’s $1,000,000 jackpot in the FOX Bet Super 6 NFL Sunday Challenge. Find out how they won!



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Packers beat Patriots in overtime, but Aaron Rodgers' trust issues remain

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Aaron Rodgers struggled in the first half and doesn’t feel comfortable throwing to his young receivers. But the Packers persevered.



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