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Throwback Thursday: Special Teams Highlight Victory over Bills

Intro: The Colts headed into the final month of the 2012 season with their best special teams performance of the year. Thanks to T.Y. Hilton’s 75-yard punt return for a touchdown, the Colts moved to 7-4 with a 20-13 win over the Buffalo Bills.





INDIANAPOLIS –Special teams play was something Colts Owner Jim Irsay made as a point of emphasis when the team was taking part in general manager and head coaching changes in 2012.

The unit had been critiqued for many years and the Colts owner knew how vital that phase can be in deciding games.

Simply pop in the Nov. 25, 2012 Colts/Bills game film to find out exactly why.

With the Colts offense struggling to score touchdowns, the return game took matters into its own hands in the second quarter.

Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton fielded a punt at the Indianapolis 25-yard line and thanks to a bevy of moves, the rookie was in the open field in scoring the team's first punt return for a touchdown since 2007.

"It was about time, right on time, and made a big difference in the game," Hilton said. "I was able to stretch-and-cut and the guys were able to block. We needed it."

Thanks to a strong defensive effort and a timely second-half touchdown, the Colts were able to push their record to 7-4 heading into the final month of the season.

Andrew Luck engineered a 15-play third quarter touchdown drive with Hilton once again getting involved, with an eight-yard TD reception.

Fans inside of Lucas Oil Stadium also were treated to Chuck Pagano making an appearance on the jumbotron early in the fourth quarter.

With Irsay by his side, Pagano waved to the crowd, lipped "thank you" and thumped his heart to acknowledge the Colts fans.

The Colts head coach witnessed another victory inside of Lucas Oil Stadium thanks to a unit that has been a priority since day one.

"I thought they won the game for us," Arians said of the special teams play. "Not only with the return for the touchdown but with the field position they created and how well they covered."

OFFENSIVE HIGHLIGHT:In Andrew Luck's path to shattering the rookie quarterback wins record for No. 1 picks, he equaled the previous mark with over a month left in the regular season.

Luck's seventh win tied Rams quarterback Sam Bradford for the most wins by a quarterback drafted No. 1 overall since 1970.

For the Bills game, Luck was 20-of-37 for 240 yards including a 15-play touchdown drive in the third quarter.

DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHT:In a season in which Jerrell Freeman amassed a franchise record 203 tackles, his name could be the highlight nearly every week.

But his performance against the Bills might have been the best in 2012.

Freeman recorded 16 tackles, three of those for a loss and had a sack against the Bills.

His performance led a unit that allowed just one touchdown on the afternoon and held the Bills to 4-of-13 on third down.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:Interim head coach Bruce Arians thought he got strong output from all three units against the Bills, with one in particular sticking out.

"Our special teams showed up huge. I thought they won the game for us. Not only with the return for the touchdown and the field position they created but how well they covered. Those are two great returners. We asked Pat (McAfee) to have his best game ever as a kicker and he really contributed. He kicked the ball great."INTERESTING FACT:The punt return for a touchdown by Hilton was the first for the Colts since T.J. Rushing in 2007.

Pair Hilton's return for a touchdown and his third-quarter eight-yard touchdown reception, and the rookie became the first Colts player in franchise history to record scores via the return and reception in a game.


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