INDIANAPOLIS — The Seattle Seahawks have had one of the best secondaries in the NFL for years, but T.Y. Hilton made that a moot point the last time the Indianapolis Colts and the Seahawks hit the field.
Hilton burned the Seattle corners and safeties to the tune of five catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns — one of which was a 73-yard catch and run — in Week 5 of the 2013 season, when Indianapolis pulled out a 34-28 home victory over the eventual Super Bowl champions.
Richard Sherman certainly hasn't forgotten about that day. And if he's tasked with at times shadowing Hilton throughout Sunday night's Week 4 matchup at CenturyLink Field, the cornerback said it'll take a better overall effort from the entire secondary to try to slow Hilton down.
"He's small, he's fast and he's shifty," Sherman said of Hilton this week. "He explodes in and out of his breaks. He obviously has great top-end speed so you have to be aware with where he is on the field at all times."
That 2013 game against the Colts notwithstanding, Seattle's "Legion of Boom" secondary has remained just as tenacious over the years, despite seeing its cast change from time to time. Established earlier this decade, the group now consists of Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Jeremy Lane, and speed, aggressiveness and excellent ball skills remain its hallmarks.
Seattle's secondary is, of course, led by Sherman, a fifth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft who made an immediate impact on his team — leading all rookies that year with four interceptions and 17 passes defensed — and, since that time, no other cornerback in the league has secured more interceptions (30) or passes defensed (97).
Sherman's numbers speak volumes, but they are even more impressive given the fact that many teams simply shy away from throwing in Sherman's direction altogether.
Chuck Pagano understands Sherman's high level of expertise and ability to alter the course of the game in a matter of seconds.
"He knows what you are doing before you do it," the Colts' head coach said. "A great student of the game. He just knows. He competes at a high, high level."
So will Sherman be matched up against Hilton throughout Sunday's game? Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told reporters this week that they'll just have to wait and see.
"Yeah, that's giving up too much information," Carroll said.
If that matchup does come to fruition, however, it will certainly be one to keep an eye on throughout the entirety of the game. In last week's matchup against the Browns, Hilton logged seven receptions for 153 yards and a touchdown, helping lead the Colts (1-2) to their first win of the season. Following the game, Hilton made it clear that with a new quarterback, Jacoby Brissett, at the helm, he embraces the pressure as a veteran leader on the team.
"For us to have success, I have to make plays," Hilton said. "If I don't, we struggle. I came out with the mindset that I'm going to put the team on my back and play."
And while Andrew Luck will not suit up against Seattle (1-2) on Sunday, Carroll told reporters that it would not make the task any easier against an emerging quarterback in Brissett, who completed 17-of-24 passes for 259 yards with a touchdown, while also running for two scores against the Browns.
"I wish it felt like that, but it doesn't," Carroll said. "They're utilizing his mobility and his talents and playing off of Frank (Gore), playing off of T.Y. (Hilton) and Jack (Doyle) – and they look pretty good. They're doing a lot of stuff that gives us a lot of headaches."