At one point during the Colts' Week 13 game against the Houston Texans, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton went up to head coach Frank Reich on the sidelines and told him: "You don't have to go out of your way to get me the ball."
That was one of the more powerful soundbites from Episode 4 of "Hard Knocks In Season: The Indianapolis Colts," because it showed not only who Hilton is – but what the Colts are all about as a team.
Right after that moment, Reich turned to quarterback Carson Wentz and said: "Pro. P-R-O."
It also jogged my mind to something Reich told me before the season when I asked him what he's come to appreciate about Hilton over the years.
"I always knew T.Y. was a great player, but what I've really enjoyed watching is what a great leader he is and how hard he works physically, but (also) just how great a teammate he is," Reich said. "I'm sure he's got a selfish bone in his body because we all do, but when we're out on the practice field and out in games, I feel like he's an incredibly unselfish player.
"Like when he comes to me on the sideline, if he hasn't got the ball, and he's like 'come on,' indicating to me, come on, get me the ball — I know that can be done in two different ways. That can be done like hey, what are you doing, get me the football. Or that can be done like, hey man, I want to help, I can beat this guy, I can get us going, I can be the spark. That's the way T.Y. does that. I just love the guy."
This week's episode of "Hard Knocks" peeled back the curtain of what Hilton has gone through this year with a neck injury that required surgery and kept him on injured reserve for the first five weeks of the season. Hilton said the injury was so bad he was only sleeping for about 30 minutes a night, and the entire left side of his body went numb.
The Colts went 1-4 in Hilton's absence to start the season.
"What TY Hilton has meant to this organization, and it's hurt to miss him for the games," Reich said. "It's been a big void. I'm excited he's back in the groove and really expecting him to be a major factor in the season."
Hilton also missed time this year with a quad injury and a concussion, but is trending toward being a key factor for the Colts in the final four games of the season. His leadership has remained strong throughout all he's dealt with in 2021, and the Colts know how important he'll be to them in the stretch run of the season.
Another central focus of this week's episode: The Colts' push to shut out the Texans didn't just come out of thin air.
"Bro," linebacker Darius Leonard says to Kenny Moore II during a practice last week, "we need a shutout."
Fast-forward to before kickoff Sunday, and Leonard says: "At the end of the game we want a zero on the scoreboard. That's the mindset."
The Colts took that mindset to heart, with Moore intercepting Tyrod Taylor on the first play of the game and forcing a fumble to end Houston's second possession. From there, the Colts smothered Houston's offense, and they knew it.
"I need a goose egg," Leonard yells.
Goose egg accomplished.
- The best part of Episode 4? Xavier Rhodes and his wife, Brittney, chasing their daughter, Journey, around the American Girl Doll store. "Is this the doll you like?" a store attendant asks Journey. "NO!" she screams. Brittney says, "She wasn't ready for this." Xavier: "Shoot, I wasn't ready for this."
- Quote of the episode! Rhodes: "Chasing Journey around, I feel like I was still at work." Anyone who's ever brought a toddler or young kid to a store knows what he's talking about.
- "It's moments like these that keep me going, keep me sane," DeForest Buckner says as he, his wife and son bake and decorate Christmas cookies. Unfortunately, the cookies tasted terrible, apparently.
- "Hard Knocks" did a good job highlighting how well Danny Pinter played with Quenton Nelson mic'd up for the game. After one play, a Colts offensive lineman yells "Chirp chirp, Danny!" to the Ball State alum.
- Actually, Parks Frazier's inflatable penguin is the star of the this week's episode.