HBO 'Hard Knocks' 2021: Best Colts Storylines, Moments, Reaction for Episode 6

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 23, 2021

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) celebrates with teammates after scoring after scoring on a 67-yard touchdown run during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
AP Photo/AJ Mast

"That's all that matters. To beat the New England Patriots."

The message was clear from head coach Frank Reich during Wednesday's episode of HBO's Hard Knocks in Season: The Indianapolis Colts.

While last week's episode was all about the bye and a glimpse at the players' lives off the field, this week brought a return to the playoff race. That meant the focus was on a Saturday showdown with the Patriots and all the work that went into preparing for the Super Bowl contenders.

Running back Jonathan Taylor had never played the Patriots in his career, but he knew how much work would be required to get the win:


Jonathan Taylor is putting in work to be the best. ๐Ÿ’ฏ<br><br>New <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> with the <a href="https://twitter.com/Colts?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Colts</a> TONIGHT 10pm on <a href="https://twitter.com/hbomax?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@HBOMax</a> <a href="https://t.co/E54KUnHEr9">pic.twitter.com/E54KUnHEr9</a>

Fortunately for the Colts, all that hard work paid off.

Indianapolis controlled the game on the way to a 27-17 victory and improved to 8-6 in the process. Considering it was once 1-4 and is now 5-1 in its last six games, it has quickly turned into the team none of the top seeds will want to face come playoff time.

Taylor continued his MVP quest with 170 rushing yards and a touchdown, which was necessary because quarterback Carson Wentz threw for just 57 yards with one touchdown and one interception.


"Go ahead and pop one off right here, huh?"<a href="https://twitter.com/cj_wentz?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@cj_wentz</a> asked. <a href="https://twitter.com/JayT23?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JayT23</a> delivered.<br><br>New episode of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a>: In Season with the <a href="https://twitter.com/Colts?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Colts</a> drops tomorrow at 10pm ET on HBO/HBO Max! <a href="https://t.co/ZaPhdZaWLq">pic.twitter.com/ZaPhdZaWLq</a>

Indianapolis Colts @Colts

Jonathan Taylor!<br>M-V-P!<br>Jonathan Taylor!<br>M-V-P!<br><br>New <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> starts NOW on <a href="https://twitter.com/hbomax?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@HBOMax</a>! <a href="https://t.co/JdG3tmDM3d">pic.twitter.com/JdG3tmDM3d</a>

Even the mascot got in on the fun when Taylor broke free for a long touchdown:

B/R Gridiron @brgridiron

Imagine giving up a touchdown and the mascot doing this right in your face ๐Ÿ’€<br><br>A new episode of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> In Season: The <a href="https://twitter.com/Colts?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Colts</a> airs tonight 10pm on <a href="https://twitter.com/hbomax?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@hbomax</a> <a href="https://t.co/pOnVf9g4nV">pic.twitter.com/pOnVf9g4nV</a>

The defense and special teams also shined, which helped pick up the slack for Wentz. New England didn't score a single point until the fourth quarter, and the Colts seized a two-score advantage in the first quarter and never trailed after E.J. Speed recovered Matthew Adams' blocked punt in the end zone.

The special teams scoring was particularly notable since Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone was a featured character during Wednesday's episode because he was formerly a player and coach for the Patriots.

It wasn't all business and touchdowns, though, as the rookies had a chance to show off during a holiday cookie bake-off and the players worked on their Pro Bowl voting.

NFL Films @NFLFilms

Gucci on my ๐Ÿช <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/3BOGZHZCko">pic.twitter.com/3BOGZHZCko</a>

Turns out many of the Colts were voting on who would join them at the game since seven members of the team were named to the Pro Bowl on Wednesday.

Taylor was the headliner, but Indianapolis is also sending center Ryan Kelly, offensive guard Quenton Nelson, defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, linebacker Darius Leonard, cornerback Kenny Moore II and long snapper Luke Rhodes to the Pro Bowl.   

NFL Films @NFLFilms

Another day, another franchise record ๐Ÿ”ฅ<br><br>Bow down to <a href="https://twitter.com/JayT23?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JayT23</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/lAf4CuBu5l">pic.twitter.com/lAf4CuBu5l</a>

Those Pro Bowlers have playoff dreams to chase first, and the win over the Patriots has the Colts just one game back of the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South even though the first-place team has the tiebreaker thanks to two head-to-head wins.

Indianapolis is in postseason position as the No. 5 seed, although it is part of a crowded AFC wild-card race with six teams with six losses and four more with seven losses.

As long as Taylor is leading the showโ€”both on the field and on HBOโ€”the Colts figure to be in ideal position even in a tight race.