Through Thanksgiving, T.Y. Hilton seemed a shell of himself. The man nicknamed “Ghost” frequently disappeared into the abyss in 2020.
The Indianapolis Colts offense had appeared to be moving on without the speedster, as Philip Rivers could never find the connection with Hilton like QBs of the past.
In nine games played through Week 11, Hilton averaged a measly 36.3 yards per game on 3.2 catches per tilt. He had just one game with more than five catches, never reached the 70-yard mark, and scored exactly zero touchdowns. Those are WR3 numbers, at best. They certainly aren’t indicative of the playmaker Hilton had been for most of his career.
Then Week 12 hit and the Hilton-Rivers connection scorched opponents.
“December football is when big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games,” Hilton said recently, per ESPN’s Mike Wells.
Hilton has been a big-play machine.
In the last three games, Hilton averaged 92.3 yards on 5.7 catches per game with four total TDs (most in the NFL since Week 12). Rivers has a 153.4 passer rating when targeting Hilton since Week 12 (best in NFL, minimum 10 targets).
Rivers noted that Hilton never stopped asking for the ball even before things opened up in the past three weeks.
“He wants the ball, and I don’t think it was him settling to not get it,” Rivers said. “He wanted it every week, yet he was so professional about it. His competitiveness was felt, but he knew he was still helping the team, still having an impact. Thankfully, I’ve been around a lot of guys like that, from the Vincent Jacksons, to Keenan Allens and [Antonio] Gates. The guys that have been the ‘guy’ for a long time. There are games where it’s like they’re not going to let him get it this week, and it’s going to be sprinkled to the other guys, and he may only have two or three targets, but yet we find a way to win. And then you see, we’ve been able to get him going these last three.”
Hilton had patience that his time would come in the Colts offense. He stayed ready and exploded.
“I’m still dominant,” Hilton said recently. “I can still dominate any team, any game, no matter where we’re at.”
The veteran WR gets another prime spot to dominate this week against a Houston Texans squad he’s tortured throughout his career.
Hilton’s receptions (93), receiving yards (1,647) and receiving TDs (11) versus the Texans rank in the top three among players against any single opponent since 2012, per NFL Research. His 17.7 career yards per reception is the most versus a single opponent in the Super Bowl era (minimum 90 catches).
In Week 13, Hilton blasted the Texans for eight catches, 110 yards and a TD.
Hilton’s recent play has ignited a previously dormant downfield offense the Colts sorely lacked, with Rivers generating a 107.1 passer rating and 9 TD to 3 INTs on passes of 10-plus air-yards since Week 6.
The Texans allow a 109.6 passer rating on downfield attempts, so expect Rivers to continue to take his shots to Hilton again in Week 15.
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