INDIANAPOLIS --- T.Y. Hilton woke up Sunday morning before a game against the top-ranked defense in the NFL not thinking his foot would cooperate enough for him to play.
"To be honest, man, I woke up this morning. I didn't know," said Hilton after the Colts 27-24 win over the Broncos Sunday. "It was one of these games I didn't want to miss. I just put all my trust in the trainers. I slept in the training room, lived in the training room this whole week."
Hilton did not practice Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, only running on a treadmill and doing some light field work with trainers Friday on his injured foot.
"They told me it was going to take four weeks to heal," said Hilton. "I went in there with a mindset I'm going against all the odds. I want to play this week. I want to give it my all. My leg responded."
It responded with a gutty 5 reception game for 82 yards against the NFL's #1 defense to lead all Colts receivers, playing only 48-of-79 snaps (61%, lowest of the season). That included a big 28-yard catch over the middle on 3rd and 10 of the Colts 2nd drive of the game, where Hilton took a shot to the head by Denver safety T.J. Ward, who was penalized for unnecessary roughness. That reception led to the first score of the day, a 7-yard Frank Gore touchdown run. Hilton later added a 30-yard reception on another 3rd down in the 2nd quarter.
"I didn't even know I was going to play. I didn't think I was going to play," Hilton continued, before describing how the foot felt during the game. "It felt good. My adrenaline was running. I treated it the best I could the whole time...Once I'm out there, my job is to make plays for this team."
That's why they pay him the big bucks. Hilton's improbable performance began about an hour before the inactive list of players was released. He took the field around 2:00 PM to test that foot, walking out of the tunnel thinking he wouldn't like the results.
"I ran the whole route tree," said Hilton when asked how he tested the foot. "If there was any route I didn't feel good about, I wasn't going to play. I felt good. Coach said I looked good. So, I let it go."
Despite the injury, Hilton's success against the Broncos continued. #13 posted 4 receptions for 82 yards at Denver in the divisional playoffs a year ago, and that doesn't include the coverage penalties he drew as well. Hilton's 82 yards Sunday were the most he's posted in four games against Denver.
"That's a great defense, from 1 to 11," said Hilton. "They're awesome. For us, the main thing was keep a clean pocket for Andrew and receivers just gotta get open."
Hilton did just that, after waking up thinking his team would be without him. The last time that happened the Colts lost 42-7 at Dallas week 16 of the 2014 season. Andrew Luck posted his worst passer rating as a pro on that day. Hilton wasn't about to let that happen again, with his team desperately needing a win after a three-game losing streak.
"When they had their whole team in the box, we took shots. We made plays," said running back Frank Gore after the game. "I'm happy T.Y. (Hilton) came and played even though he's banged up. He came out and was big for us."
The Colts took a big step forward, even with just one healthy foot on their star wide receiver.