Luck, Hilton hook up to rally Colts past Chargers 26-22
Indianapolis Colts' T.Y. Hilton (13) runs past San Diego Chargers' Tenny Palepoi (95) for a 63-yard touchdown reception during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Andrew Luck shook off a sore throwing shoulder, then watched T.Y. Hilton break a tackle on a 63-yard touchdown pass with 1:17 to play Sunday, giving the Indianapolis Colts a 26-22 victory over the San Diego Chargers.
It's the second time this season Luck has produced a late score to give Indy a lead in the waning seconds. But, unlike the season opener two weeks ago, the Colts recovered two fumbles in the final 62 seconds to preserve the win.
Luck finished 24 of 37 for 331 yards with one TD and one interception to earn his 15th career come-from-behind win – not bad for a guy who missed practice Wednesday and did limited work Thursday in practice because of the injury.
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At times, Luck struggled, losing a fumble late in the first half that San Diego returned 61 yards to tie it at 13.
When it mattered most, though, Luck persevered. He converted on fourth-and-7 with an 8-yard pass to Hilton with 1:52 left, then found Hilton again after an injury stoppage. Hilton spun out of a tackle and zig-zagged his way down the field to avoid Chargers defenders to help the Colts (1-2) snap a two-game losing streak.
Philip Rivers got two more chances to win it. The first ended when safety Clayton Geathers stripped the ball from tight end Hunter Henry and Pro Bowl safety Mike Adams fell on it. The second ended when the Colts recovered another fumble on a desperation play as time expired.
Rivers was 25 of 38 for 310 yards.
Melvin Gordon was held to 16 carries for 35 yards, but scored a TD.
Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa practiced in pads for the first time this week. The No. 3 overall draft pick has yet to make his NFL debut. After showing up following a prolonged contract holdout, Bosa's return was set back by a hamstring injury. Now the question is how much longer will the Chargers keep him out?
Indy still hasn't started 0-3 since 2011, when Peyton Manning missed the entire season with an injured nerve. How big was this win? Since the current playoff format took effect in 1990, only five 0-3 teams have made the postseason. The last team to do it was the 1998 Buffalo Bills.
THE STREAK CONTINUES
Frank Gore rushed for 70 yards in the first half and looked almost certain to end the Colts' streak of consecutive games without a 100-yard runner at 52. Instead, Gore gained only 11 in the second half, finishing with 81, to extend the league's longest active streak to 53.
Chargers: Linebacker Manti Te'o came into the game as San Diego's leading tackler, but left in the first quarter with an Achilles tendon injury and did not return. The injury occurred when he appeared to plant his left leg while chasing Gore into the flat. The Chargers' other starting inside linebacker, Denzel Perryman, left early in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be an injured knee. Left tackle King Dunlap (illness) and tight end Antonio Gates (hamstring) were inactive.
Colts: The Colts played the entire second half without the regular starters on the right side of their offensive line. Guard Denzelle Good (back) was inactive and Reitz (back) left during the first half. He did not return. Geathers (foot) left in the third quarter, but returned.
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