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Marlon Mack helps Colts set playoff records in win

The arrival of the postseason means less chances for players to morph into their premier, unstoppable form. But that doesn't mean those achievers are any less important.

In fact, it's quite the opposite.

Take our winner this week, who powered a sprint to a playoff win for a team that was in the deepest and darkest reaches of the league's cellar (not occupied by the 2017 winless Browns) just a year ago. A lot can change in a year, and a lot can happen in 60 minutes of football.

Come on down, Marlon Mack! And please, please leave your Mark Morrison jokes at home.

Unstoppable Performer

Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis entered Houston as a very slight underdog, but made clear from the beginning that they were the better team. The Colts ran and passed their way down the field for an opening touchdown and made it a 14-0 game before we'd even spent eight minutes of game time.

From there, and throughout the rest of the game, Mack paced Indianapolis. It's only right that a backfield horse led the Colts to victory.

Mack set a franchise record for most rushing yards in a playoff game with his 148 (and a touchdown), earned on 24 carries for a sparkling average of 6.2 yards per carry. Thanks to Mack, the Colts also set a team record for rushing yards in a playoff game with an even 200.

They also helped assert Indianapolis' will on a Houston defense that was left searching for its skills after falling behind 21-0. The Texans never recovered, and the Colts are moving on with Mack positioned to do more damage on the road, this time against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Also considered ...

Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott got the "grown man" questions after his clutch run all but iced a wild-card win for the Cowboys, but he wouldn't have gotten such an opportunity if it wasn't for Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys' workhorse, bell-cow, whatever-you-want-to-call-him racked up 44 yards on a key run just before halftime as part of a drive that produced the game's first touchdown. And more importantly, when the Cowboys needed to burn clock and keep the ball out of Seattle's hands, they did so by repeatedly turning to Elliott, who rarely goes down on first contact and is always a load to tackle.

That pounding dished out by Elliott in the fourth made Prescott's stunning run out of an empty backfield that much more surprising. Surely without Elliott in the backfield, the Cowboys had to pass. But they didn't, leaving it to Prescott to get the key first down -- and touchdown -- that proved to be the difference.

That doesn't happen without the ever-reliable Elliott, who by the way finished with 137 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries. Zeke keeps eating.

Melvin Ingram, Los Angeles Chargers

Shall we let an infographic speak for itself?

Ingram was a direct contributor to Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens struggling mightily in the first half. In fact, without Ingram, the Chargers might not be playing this weekend.

Ingram forced an early fumble that ended up producing a turnover and a field goal for the Chargers. He racked up seven tackles. And his biggest play -- a fumble recovery -- secured the win for Los Angeles.

When paired with Joey Bosa, Ingram serves as one half of one of the most formidable rushing duos in football. That duo worked well, but Los Angeles found itself on its heels as Baltimore attempted a furious comeback.

Then, rookie Uchenna Nwosu came around the edge, knocked the ball out of Jackson's hands, and Ingram was there to scoop it up. Turnover. Ball game.

The takeaway capped an unstoppable day for Ingram, who is a key part of Los Angeles' upstart defense -- and will get another chance at postseason glory this weekend in New England.

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