ORLANDO, Fla. — Two years ago, Derek Carr learned it's nearly impossible to overthrow the speedy T.Y. Hilton, as the two connected on what was originally ruled a spectacular 51-yard touchdown play midway through the second quarter of the Pro Bowl.
Unfortunately, the officials would take the score off the board after a replay showed Hilton was unable to completely retain possession of the catch as he hit the ground going out of the back of the end zone:
So last week, when Carr and Hilton found themselves back practicing together on the same AFC Pro Bowl squad, the two promised each other they'd try to get some payback.
Fast forward to the 6:37 mark in the third quarter of Sunday's Pro Bowl game, and Carr, in for his first series under center for the AFC, didn't waste much time. On just the third play of the drive, he launched yet another pass deep towards Hilton, who was being draped by All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson.
Sprinting to a spot just short of the goal line, Hilton stopped on a dime, boxed out Peterson and leaped up in the air, plucking the ball and diving at the NFC two-yard line:
One play later, running back LeSean McCoy punched it into the end zone for the touchdown, getting the surging AFC to within just three points, 20-17, after it trailed 20-3 going into halftime.
Carr and Hilton would continue playing a major role the rest of the way, as the AFC got a late touchdown pass to Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker to earn their second straight over the NFC, 24-23.
"It's always fun playing with Derek," said Hilton, who led all players with 98 receiving yards on the day. "He told me we were going to get one, and once he threw it I had to go get it. And it was fun making a play."
That "fun" theme was apparent all week for both Hilton and his teammate, tight end Jack Doyle, who was making his first-ever Pro Bowl appearance after a career year in 2017 for the Indianapolis Colts.
And while the AFC team's practices, led by the Pittsburgh Steelers' coaching staff, certainly had a much more relaxed vibe than those of the regular-season variety, Doyle said he wanted to be sure to get his playbook down as well as he could so that he didn't look foolish once he got a shot in Sunday's game.
As it turned out, Doyle's opportunities would present themselves early, as both of his receptions on the day, for a combined 17 yards, came in the first quarter.
"Yeah, it was fun to get a couple out of the way in there early; kind of get back in the football routine," Doyle said. "Been out of it for a few weeks."
Both Hilton, making his fourth straight appearance, and Doyle said they enjoyed their Pro Bowl experience this year, as they not only got the chance to have a little fun with — and pick the brains of — some of the best the league has to offer, but, perhaps most importantly, they got to spend quality time with their families in Orlando.
Now, the offseason can officially begin for these two critical pieces of the Colts' offense.
"Yeah, it was a lot of fun," Doyle said. "I got to spend a lot of fun time with the family, and it was fun to get the win."
"It was fun, being able to come back here to Orlando again," Hilton said. "It's always fun coming to Orlando, playing with Mickey Mouse. We just had a great time. (His family) enjoyed themselves, and it's time to go back home."
Highlights from the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl.