INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Monday announced the 2010s All-Decades Team, and although one former Indianapolis Colts player, running back Frank Gore, made the cut, which current and former Colts likely just narrowly missed out on the honor?
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton
A third-round pick by the Colts in the 2012 NFL Draft, Hilton was one of the more dangerous wide receivers in the NFL throughout the course of the 2010s. Hilton finished seventh in the NFL in the decade in receiving yards (8,598) over that span, while his 15.58 yards-per-reception mark ranked second among all players with at least 500 receptions.
Hilton ranked seventh on NFL.com's Nick Shook's list of "2010s All-Decade Team Snubs," but, unfortunately, there's quite a logjam of talent at the wide receiver position; those who made it were Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones, leaving names like Hilton, A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas on the outside looking in.
Defensive end Justin Houston
Few pass rushers were as feared throughout the 2010s as Houston. A third-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2011 NFL Draft, Houston ranked sixth in the NFL in sacks over the previous decade with 89.5. He also ranked 12th in tackles for loss (109). Included in that was Houston's All-Pro year in 2014, when he led the league with 22.0 sacks — just 0.5 sacks away from tying the single-season NFL record.
Among the edge rushers that did make the 2010s All-Decade Team were Calais Campbell, Cameron Jordan, Julius Peppers, J.J. Watt, Chandler Jones, Khalil Mack and Von Miller. Tough to disagree with any of those picks.
The good news for the Colts is that Houston, 31, is showing no signs of slowing anytime soon. In 2019, his first season with the team, he played in all 16 games for the first time in five seasons, and finished with a team-leading 11 sacks.
Punter Pat McAfee
Perhaps no one was better at the punter/kickoff specialist role in the 2010s than McAfee. A seventh-round pick by the Colts in the 2009 NFL Draft out of West Virginia, McAfee would rank eighth among qualified punters in punting average from 2010-19 (46.61), ranked second among qualified kickers in kickoff average (66.9) and recovered four onside kicks.
McAfee's First-Team All-Pro performance in 2014 was one for the ages. He punted 69 times for an average of 46.7 yards per kick, and a career-high net average of 42.8, while he recovered all three onside kicks he attempted — one of which he recovered himself against the AFC South Division rival Houston Texans.
McAfee retired from the NFL following the 2016 season. The two punters that did make the 2010s NFL All-Decade Team were Johnny Hekker and Shane Lechler.
Guard Quenton Nelson
OK, we don't want to sound too homer-ish here, so we'll acknowledge the fact that with just two seasons played in the decade — and with all the tremendous other players who did end up making the cut — that Nelson shouldn't have been in the running for the 2010s All-Decade Team.
We will point out, however, that Nelson was one of just 12 offensive linemen — and one five primary guards — to have earned at least two First-Team All-Pro selections in the 2010s.
We're not saying, but we're just saying.
The guards that ended up making the 2010s NFL All-Decades Team were Jahri Evans, Logan Mankins, Zack Martin and unanimous selection Marshal Yanda.
Quarterback Philip Rivers
Rivers, of course, played the entire previous decade with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers. From 2010-19, he ranked among qualifying quarterbacks: third in passing yards (44,320), fourth in pass attempts (5,677) and passing touchdowns (291) and fifth in completion percentage (65.19).
Rivers, who was named to six Pro Bowls during the 2010s — tied for fourth-most in the decade among all quarterbacks — begins his first season leading the Colts' offense in 2020.
Kicker Adam Vinatieri
Vinatieri made a darn good case to earn All-Decade honors for the second time in his career.
He was a model of consistency at the placekicker position throughout the decade, every season of which he played with the Colts. He finished second among all kickers in field goals attempted (303) and third among in points scored (1,143), field goals made (261), and field goal percentage from 40-49 yards (84.2 percent).
Vinatieri in 2018 also became the NFL's all-time leader in both points scored and made field goals, and was selected First-Team All-Pro — and to the Pro Bowl — for the third time in his career in 2014, when he led the lead in field goal percentage at 96.8 percent. He also led the league in extra points made (51) in 2010.
Had the league included three kickers on its list, he almost surely would've made it; but only two — Stephen Gostkowski and Justin Tucker (a unanimous pick) ended up making the cut for this past decade.