HOUSTON — T.Y. Hilton knows how important he is to the Indianapolis Colts' offensive attack week in and week out. When Hilton has a big day, much more often than not, the Colts come away with the win.
So Indy's No. 1 receiver certainly heard his share of questions the past few weeks as his production took a dip — and, accordingly, as the losses mounted up for his team. In the three games leading up to Sunday's matchup against the Texans in Houston, Hilton had caught a combined five passes for just 51 yards, and the Colts fell to the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals.
The chatter grew even louder last week, as Hilton's name was tossed around on the rumor mill as the league's trade deadline came and went.
So on Sunday, Hilton let his play do the talking for him.
The two-time Pro Bowler capped the Colts' opening drive with a 45-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Jacoby Brissett, but he was just getting started, as he added another sensational touchdown grab in the third quarter, as his monster day was a huge piece to his team's 20-14 victory over the Texans at NRG Stadium.
Hilton finished his day with five receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns — marking the 27th time he has surpassed the 100-yard receiving mark in his career — as the Colts' offense helped get the second half of the season off on the right foot.
"We're just as an offense getting better," Brissett said when asked about Hilton's day. "A lot of the plays that he made today, a lot of people helped create those plays. He did a great job with the ball in his hands."
Hilton has now tied Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown for the league lead with three performances of more than 150 yards receiving as he once again flashed his big play capabilities on Sunday.
No play was bigger than his unorthodox 80-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.
Hilton lined up to the right side of the formation and worked across the middle on 3rd and 9, took in a five-yard pass from Brissett and then sped up the left sideline before reaching an encounter with defensive back Kareem Jackson near the Texans' 35-yard line.
Hilton gave credit to his fellow wide receivers Chester Rogers and Donte Moncrief for their downfield blocking, but the most memorable part of the sequence all came down to Hilton's athleticism and awareness.
"I cut back, and I kind of dove over [Jackson], so I knew he didn't touch me," Hilton said of his lunge out of the reach of the falling defender. "I was just hoping nobody else touched me, and I just got up and ran."
Tight end Jack Doyle was right there with Hilton yelling at him to get up and then providing an escort to the end zone as most defenders had given up on the play thinking the ball carrier was down.
The play was reviewed and the official's call on the field was upheld for the touchdown and a 17-7 Colts lead after Adam Vinatieri's extra point.
"That was a great heads up play," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said. "Great instincts. Great instincts. To evade that guy and have the wherewithal and instincts to bounce up and run it in, that's great football."
It was Hilton's seventh career multiple-touchdown game and, of course, helped snapped a three-game losing streak for the Colts. They now host the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium next Sunday, with Week 10 now clear of many of the distractions that loomed prior to the Houston contest.
"Nobody remembers all the other stuff," Hilton said. "November football is different. We just wanted to come out here and get a win to start off on the right foot."
Photos from the week 9 game at NRG Stadium against the Houston Texans