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Colts RB Nyheim Hines 'on fire' in birthday romp over Titans

The birthday boy celebrated in style Thursday night.

Nyheim Hines enjoyed his 24th birthday in the best way an NFL player can: torching a rival on the road with a massive game to propel his team to a division lead.

Early in Thursday's 34-17 blowout win over the Tennessee Titans, Colts running backs coach Tom Rathman -- and, frankly, everyone watching on TV -- could see Hines was in the zone. The RB coach told coach Frank Reich to ride Hines.

"Nyheim is on fire," Rathman told Reich, via The Athletic. "Leave him in."

And, so, they did.

In turn, the third-year pro rewarded his coaches with a massive game, compiling 70 rushing yards on 12 carries with a TD and adding five receptions for 45 yards and another score.

"He just came out and had the fire in his eye," Reich said. "Can't explain it. Every now and then, you know how it is, you're just in the zone."

The production marked Hines' first career game with 100-plus scrimmage yards and two touchdowns.

For birthday trivia fans, NFL Research has you covered: Hines became the second player since 1948 to have his first career game with 100-plus scrimmage yards and at least two scores fall on his birthday, joining Packers RB Samkon Gado -- coincidently, today is Gado's birthday.

Hines became the fifth player since 1948 with 100-plus scrimmage yds, 1-plus rush TD and 1-plus receiving TD on his birthday (also Gado, LA's Bo Jackson, CIN's Boobie Clark, PHI's Tom Woodeshick).

"I think I'm a dynamic player, and in space, I'm one of the most dangerous guys out there," Hines said.

Hines joined Alvin Kamara as the only RBs to lead their teams in receptions in 2020 (Hines has 33 receptions on the season, most on the Colts, ahead of Zach Pascal's 28).

In a backfield with second-round rookie Jonathan Taylor and Jordan Wilkins, Hines has been lost too often. In the four previous games, the back combined for just 10 carries and averaged just 5.5 touches per contest. Thursday night marked Hines' first game with 10-plus carries since Week 8, 2018.

Despite his lack of opportunities, Hines has three games of two or more scrimmage TDs in 2020, joining Dalvin Cook (4), Davante Adams (3), Derrick Henry (3), Kamara (3), Christian McCaffrey (3) and Cam Newton (3), entering Sunday.

The running back's prime-time performance proved he needs more touches in a Colts offense that has become stale at times this season. Hines is a playmaker who can ignite a fire.

"The thing with Nyheim, with guys like him who I've been around in the past, is they quickly get labeled a scatback or a receiver," Rivers said. "This guy's a runner. He can run between the tackles. And he's also a heck of a receiver. He's an explosive player."

The Colts should find a way to keep that explosive running back on the field more and feed him the pigskin as they push toward January football.

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