Indianapolis Colts overcome five sacks, three fumbles to beat Jaguars 23-3
INDIANAPOLIS -- T.Y. Hilton delivered on one promise to his newborn daughter and another to his teammates Sunday.
His two families couldn't be happier.
The third-year receiver raced from the hospital to Lucas Oil Stadium, then hauled in a 73-yard touchdown catch midway through the third quarter to give Colts the play they needed to get past Jacksonville 23-3.
"When I was out there, I wanted it to be special," Hilton said. "I was going to play every play for her--just give it my all. When I get back to the hospital I will take her the football."
The 5-foot-9, 178-pound receiver wound up catching four passes for 122 yards to top the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season. And after the long score drew the loudest roar of the day, he celebrated with perhaps the most touching moment of the NFL weekend by rocking the football to sleep. Andrew Luck called it cute.
"Just glad we didn't get a flag," coach Chuck Pagano said. "If we did, we did, but I think it's pretty special."
The perfect story line almost didn't happen, though.
Hilton called Pagano at 5:30 a.m. to let him know he was taking his wife to the hospital. Indy (7-4), which was already down two key blockers and lost running back Ahmad Bradshaw with a season-ending leg injury earlier this week, wasn't sure Hilton would make it. Either was Hilton, who was hoping he wouldn't get stopped for speeding.
He arrived at the stadium until 75 minutes before kickoff, and the Colts needed him to help a struggling offense.
Luck finished 21 of 32 for 253 yards with the TD pass and ran eight times for 49 yards. But he was sacked five times, fumbled three times and lost two, all in the first half. He also came up 47 yards short of tying Drew Brees' NFL record for consecutive 300-yard games. Luck's streak ended at eight.
Running back Daniel "Boom" Herron started in place of Trent Richardson and carried 12 times for 65 yards, but lost a fumble at the Jaguars 7-yard line.
Even Mr. Reliable, Reggie Wayne, struggled, catching three passes for 10 yards.
But with Hilton cranked up and running hard, the Colts won for the seventh time in nine games and extended their winning streak against AFC South foes to 11.
"We know the easiest way to get into the tournament is to win our division," Pagano said.
Defensively, the Colts took a step forward against the NFL's 27th-ranked offense.
After giving up 244 yards rushing in last week's loss, Indy held Jacksonville (1-10) to 80 yards on 23 carries. Blake Bortles wound up 15 of 27 with 146 yards and one interception as the Jags produced only 194 yards, their second-lowest total of the season. And despite getting three turnovers, all the Jags could manage was a 28-yard field goal from Josh Scobee to cap a 2-yard drive following Luck's fumble at his own 12.
Jacksonville's best player Sunday was Chris Clemons, who had three sacks and a forced fumble.
After Adam Vinatieri's 20-yard field goal gave Indy a 6-3 halftime lead, the Jaguars never had a chance.
"We had six times the ball was on the ground. We got three of them," coach Gus Bradley said, referring to the Colts' fumbles. "That's a different feel. But when you don't take advantage of it, you don't come out with a victory."
Indy righted itself in the second half.
Trent Richardson scored on a 1-yard run midway through the third quarter to make it 13-3. Less than two minutes later, Hilton beat Dwayne Gratz for the 73-yard catch-and-run to make it 20-3. Vinatieri's 32-yard field goal finished it.
"I was coming here and thought `What could I do?'" Hilton said. "Once I got (the touchdown) I quieted the crowd and rocked the baby to sleep."
Notes: Vinatieri's three field goals pushed him into fifth place on the NFL's career list with 472, one ahead of former teammate Matt Stover. ... Reggie Wayne played in his 206th career game, tying John Unitas for the second-most in franchise history. Peyton Manning played in 208. ... Cecil Shorts III, the Jags' second-leading receiver, had one catch for six yards. ... Pagano said linebacker Andy Studebaker (hamstring) and right guard Hugh Thornton (knee) would undergo further evaluation. Neither finished the game.