‘Chunk’ plays have been a staple of the Colts offense during the 2012 season.
The Colts lead the NFL with 59 receptions of at least 20 yards this year.
A number of factors have contributed to that number but one of the main reasons can go back to the word Reggie Wayne chose during training camp to describe his fellow receivers—‘speed.’
Rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton falls into that burner category and his 10 catches of at least 25 yards has contributed into the big-play ability of the Colts offense.
After only catching one pass in the first two games of the season (Hilton missed the season opener with an injury), Hilton has fully recovered from an offseason injury and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians credits his confidence.
“He’s playing so much faster than he did earlier in the year. He’s seeing things,” Arians said of Hilton. “I think the game has slowed down for him a little bit. He’s been doing a great job practicing. He’s got good practice habits because he’s modeling himself after Reggie (Wayne) and he’s just going to continue to get better and better.”
Hilton’s 716 receiving yards is second amongst all NFL rookies and he leads all first-year players with six touchdowns.
During his time in Pittsburgh, Arians had a knack for involving smaller, quicker receivers in his offense.
A name that Arians used earlier in the week, and may very well resonate with many Colts fans, is former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antwaan Randle El.
Arians does see similarities between the two but made sure to point out the fact that Hilton’s arm is not in the same category with the former Indiana University quarterback.
“El was a phenomenal athlete and probably one of the top 15 passers in the league. If T.Y. (Hilton) could throw, we’d have a lot more reverse passes,” Arians said with a laugh. “But he does remind me a lot of the quickness but I think he’s got much more top speed than El had.”
Along with his rookie leading four 100-yard receiving games, Hilton also electrified the Colts with his 75-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Bills.
Hilton will next take his big-play act to Kansas City where the elements are unknown but the goal is the exact opposite.
“It’s a must win,” Hilton said. “Win or go home for us and right now, that’s how we are taking it.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, bruce arians, T.Y. Hilton
Posted in Colts Blog
The Colts ability to show their resiliency in not having back-to-back losses on the season is a major reason why they control their own destiny in making the playoffs. A fifth win following a loss is the goal this weekend and here is a closer look at the four previous times the Colts have achieved that feat this season:
Bouncing Back the First Time: Win over the Minnesota Vikings, 23-20.
The Setting: Week 2, September 16, at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Result: In its home opener, the Colts held Vikings running back to a season-low of 60 rushing yards and a long rush of just six yards. The Colts jumped out a 20-6 third quarter lead but the Vikings came back and tied the score with 31 seconds remaining. Quarterback Andrew Luck orchestrated a final drive down to the Indianapolis 35-yard line before kicker Adam Vinatieri connected on a 53-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining. The 53-yard game-winning field goal was Vinatieri’s 24th of his 17-year career and the longest he has to give his team the victory.
Bouncing Back the Second Time: Win over the Green Bay Packers, 30-27.
The Setting: Week 5, October 7, at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Result: A Week 3 home defeat to the Jaguars was followed by a bye week and the unfathomable news of head coach Chuck Pagano being diagnosed with leukemia. In playing for their sicken coach, the Colts turned in the highlight of the 2012 regular season with another final-minute comeback victory. Down 21-3 at halftime, the Colts sparked a spirited second-half charge led by the orange-clad gloves of wide receiver Reggie Wayne. With less than a minute remaining, Luck found Wayne for a four-yard, game-winning touchdown as the Pro Bowl wideout racked up 13 catches for 212 yards on the afternoon.
Bouncing Back the Third Time: Win over the Cleveland Browns, 17-13.
The Setting: Week 7, October 21, at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Result: Following a 40-27 road loss to the New York Jets, the Colts returned home and began a four-game winning streak. Luck ran for two first-half touchdowns and the Colts held on to a 17-13 third quarter lead thanks to a strong defensive performance and an offense that had a 11-minute difference in time of possession. Indianapolis came into the game with a 2-3 record but the victory over the Browns would lead to seven wins over the next eight weeks for the Colts.
Bouncing Back the Fourth Time: Win over the Buffalo Bills, 20-13.
The Setting: Week 12, November 21, at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Result: A month after following up a road loss to an AFC East team, the Colts were up to their old tricks again. Similar to the win over the Vikings, the Colts took at 20-6 third quarter lead but this time held on without any final-minute theatrics. Rookie wide receiver T.Y. Hilton became the first Colts rookie to return a punt for a touchdown and record a receiving touchdown in the same game. Hilton’s 75-yard punt return for a touchdown was the first for a Colts player since T.J. Rushing’s 90-yarder in December of 2007.
Here are some player’s thoughts on why the Colts have been so resilient:
-Running Back Vick Ballard:
“Twenty-four hour rule. Win, lose or draw, you know that the last game is over with. You’ve got to look forward to the next week and we are going to come in Wednesday, get ready for Kansas City so we can hopefully give ourselves a chance to make the playoffs.”
-Safety Antoine Bethea:
“Regardless of whatever game we play, it’s a 24-hour rule. Win or loss, we’ve got to put it in the past and get ready for our next opponent. We’ve been doing a good job of that. Like I said, correcting the mistakes that we made in the previous game and just going out there and playing hard.”
-Outside Linebacker Dwight Freeney:
“We just realize it’s one week and whatever happened that one week, doesn’t matter for the next, whether we win or lose. You just learn from the mistakes in a win and in a loss and just move on to that next week and that is the most important game.”
-Quarterback Andrew Luck:
“I think guys want to come back and play, bounce back and atone for their mistakes. I think it’s sort of the DNA of the team and hopefully we can do that again this week. We realize it’s going to be tough against a team that is much better than their record indicates in a tough environment.”
-Defensive End Cory Redding:
“Never allow one loss to turn into two, period. You have to dig deep a little bit more to learn what you messed up on, work on it and challenge yourself to be better. If you made those mistakes a week before, don’t make them again. Don’t let one loss turn into two. We’ve come too far to reach this point to let it all go away, let it all be in vain. I won’t stand idly by and let that happen and I know my teammates won’t either. We’re going to come back this week and fight, watch tape, lift weights, run, eat right, do all we have to do to get in this game in Arrowhead and find a victory.”
-Interim head coach and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians:
“I think the biggest thing is the veteran leadership. Those guys bounce back, they know how to get the young guys off the 24-hour rule and come right back in and start working. We had really good meetings today, watched the tape, and this one will be out of our mouth by tonight and we’ll get started on Kansas City.”
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, Andrew Luck, antoine bethea, bruce arians, Chcuk Pagano, cory redding, Dwight Freeney, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, vick ballard
Posted in Colts Blog
Dwight Freeney had a message he wanted to relay to his younger teammates on Monday afternoon.
Yes, the Colts hopes for a division title were dashed with Sunday’s loss to the Texans but the chance to get into playoff still remains.
“You weren’t winning the Super Bowl (Sunday),” Freeney said. “It’s a learning process and every game you go out, it’s an opportunity to learn how to get this team to play together and make plays in whatever we need to correct.”
Freeney season started with a high ankle sprain he suffered in the season opener against the Bears and returned three weeks later in the Colts 30-27 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
In last week’s loss to the Texans, Freeney notched his third sack of the season in the Colts recording their fourth game of the season with at least three sacks.
The pass rush was one of the positives the Colts hope to carry with them for the remainder of the season.
If the Colts do qualify for the playoffs, Freeney knows Indianapolis will be playing away from home so learning from what went wrong in Houston is critical to reversing those fortunes in potential matchups.
“On the road, you can’t beat yourself and we definitely did that. In the games that we’ve lost on the road, there are times that we seem to be playing really great together and everything is working together and then there are times that we turn the ball over and we’re not in the gap or a busted coverage. At home, you can get away with that but on the road, you really can’t,” Freeney said.
The Colts will have a chance to make that opportunity come to fruition this weekend when traveling to Arrowhead Stadium in taking on the Kansas City Chiefs.
Some players relish going on the road and having ‘everyone’ against them and for Freeney, Arrowhead provides that chance.
“I love the history behind (Arrowhead). All the fans, all the red, the national anthem, home of the Chiefs. It’s kind of what you envision what home field is all about,” he said.
Putting this weekend’s environment aside, Freeney wants another chance to put on the white jersey and taste his 10th trip to the NFL playoffs.
“Obviously one of our goals is to win the division and that didn’t happen but the next most important goal is to get into the playoffs and to make it to that dance,” Freeney said.
Tags: Dwight Freeney
Posted in Colts Blog