Herron makes key contributions for Colts

Dan Herron had a couple of fumbles but was a big weapon for the Colts on Sunday.  

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INDIANAPOLIS — Running backs have given the Bengals fits during the postseason, but instead of doing it via a power ground game on Sunday, the Colts did it by making the back a key part of the passing attack. It also happened to be a former Bengal.

Daniel "Boom" Herron became the fourth back in the past five Bengals playoff games to get over 100 yards from scrimmage. Herron had 10 receptions for 85 yards along with 12 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown in the Colts 26-10 victory in an AFC wild-card game on Sunday.

Herron, who played at Ohio State, was drafted by the Bengals in the sixth round in 2012 and was with the organization for 1 1/2 seasons, mostly on the practice squad, before the Colts claimed him off the practice squad in October of 2013. After the game, Herron showed off his Buckeyes socks, which were given to him as a Christmas gift by a family member.

"The Buckeyes took care of business (last Thursday against Alabama) and we did as well. I’m a happy man," Herron said.

Herron’s 10 receptions tied a Colts’ record for the most by a running back in a postseason game (Joseph Addai also had 10 in Super Bowl XLI against the Bears). Herron’s breakthrough had been building ever since Ahmad Bradshaw was lost for the season in a Week 11 loss to New England. In the six games going into Sunday, Herron had the most snaps by a running back and was averaging 5.0 yards per carry.

On the opening drive, the Colts got Herron involved often. He had two receptions for 26 yards and then a 27-yard carry off the left end to the Bengals 13. Four plays later, Herron bowled in up the middle from two yards out to give the Colts an early 7-0 advantage. It marked the first time since last year’s AFC wild-card game that Indianapolis had scored on its opening possession.

"I was very excited for the opportunity. It’s just one of those things when you get the opportunity to take full advantage of it," Herron said. "It’s the playoffs and you want to start fast. Pep (offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton) made some great calls, the offensive line did a great job and Andrew (quarterback Andrew Luck) did a great job. We just put it all together and it worked out."

In the first half Herron had five carries for 34 yards and six receptions for 61 yards. His previous high in a game was 96 yards in Week 13 against Washington. Herron also got additional carries on Sunday with Trent Richardson seeing limited action due to illness.

Said Colts head coach Chuck Pagano of Herron: "He’s gaining confidence and he’s a playmaker. He can create when there’s not much out there and has the ability to create his own yards and make people miss in space, especially on the check-downs in the passing game. I’m proud of Boom and where he’s at. It’s coming at a good time."

The two plays that Herron would love to come back are his fumbles. The one he lost at the end of the second quarter ended up leading to a Mike Nugent field goal that brought the Bengals within 13-10 at halftime.

Herron figures to be an integral part of the Colts game plan next Sunday at Denver. In the season opener against the Broncos he was slated to be the kick returner but didn’t get the chance to return any.

"He just does his job and does it well every play," Luck said of Herron. "None of us are perfect. Mistakes happen and he bounces back like that. He’s just such a playmaker."

While Herron has been gone from the Bengals for awhile, he still has some friends on the team and still appreciates the organization giving him his first opportunity.

"I respect those guys. I wish them nothing but the best," he said.

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