INDIANAPOLIS — With 3:51 to go in the fourth quarter of Sunday's Week 5 matchup against the Chicago Bears, the Indianapolis Colts were driving, down four points, at 23-19.
On 1st and 10 from the Chicago 35-yard line, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, lined up in the shotgun with running back Frank Gore to his right, took the snap. After a five-step drop, Luck quickly realized tight end Jack Doyle, to his left, got the attention of a Chicago safety, meaning No. 1 receiver T.Y. Hilton would likely be in great position deep across the middle.
Luck stuck his back foot in the ground and launched a pass Hilton's way, which was perfectly placed right at the front of the end zone near the left hash mark, in between the Bears' Jacoby Glenn and Chris Prosinski, and into the waiting hands of No. 13 in blue.
The touchdown would be the eventual game-winning play in the Colts' 29-23 victory over the Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium, and was the latest chapter in Hilton's heroics.
"T.Y. ran a heck of a route," Luck said after the game. "T.Y.'s a special player. He has a knack for the big play, in the big moment. He's the best."
Luck went Hilton's way time and time again on Sunday, and only once in 11 targets did the two not connect on a completed pass. In all, Hilton caught a game-best 10 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown.
Included in Hilton's résumé from Sunday were receptions of 35, 31, 22 and 21 yards, and the fifth-year Florida International product was also his quarterback's security blanket on a couple plays in which the pocket collapsed and Luck had to run around for a while before finding Hilton at the last second for a big conversion.
"Just beating my man," Hilton said when asked how he was able to take advantage Sunday against the Bears. "Andrew did a great job of scrambling. Get a couple of those plays every game and we want to make sure we convert them."
On the game-winning touchdown grab, Hilton said he noticed the Bears were in quarters coverage, and he could tell almost from the beginning that, with the right throw, it could only turn out positively for the Colts.
"I knew they were going to start running the cover two towards me," Hilton said. "It was just all Andrew (Luck) – he saw that they were in it and the guys were in the perfect place to make the play."
For the season, Hilton now has 35 receptions for 507 yards and three touchdowns, and is well on pace for the best season of his five-year professional career. A two-time Pro Bowler, Hilton now has recorded 170-plus receiving yards in two of his last three games, and caught the game-winning touchdown in both games, after having a similar output Week 3 against the San Diego Chargers, including a 63-yard touchdown catch to lead the Colts to a late victory.
In the process, Hilton has continued to establish himself as an unquestioned leader for the rest of the young Indianapolis receivers, like Quan Bray, who had two receptions for 29 yards and one rush for seven yards on Sunday against the Bears.
"A lot — how could you not?" Bray said when asked how much he learns from Hilton's example. "How could you not follow right behind him and do the things that he does, because he's great, you know what I'm saying? Come clutch time, that's our leader — we're going to follow him."