The Washington Times-Herald

November 25, 2012

Hilton shines in victory

George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson traded back into the

bottom of the third round to select the Florida International star because

he saw a player with game-breaking speed.

During Sunday’s crucial 20-13 victory against the Buffalo Bills at Lucas

Oil Stadium, the rest of the world saw it, too.

Hilton broke free for a 75-yard touchdown on a punt return in the first

quarter and added an eight-yard touchdown reception late in the third --

becoming the first player in Colts history to record that scoring combo --

as Indianapolis (7-4) strengthened its position in the AFC playoff race.

“Those things, big plays like that, normally turn games,” Bills head coach

Chan Gailey said of Hilton’s return TD, “and it certainly turned momentum

with that play.”

In a game Buffalo (4-7) likely had to win to remain a factor in the

postseason chase, Hilton’s return with 9:56 remaining in the first quarter

gave the Colts the lead. A rejuvenated pass rush, led by outside

linebackers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, helped them keep it.

“Mathis and Freeney are well known, obviously, especially at home, for

creating some havoc,” Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “They did a

really nice job. There were times when we tried to get chips on them and

just varying the snap count a little bit, not letting those guys get off

on us. I thought those guys are really good players over there, and they

did a really good job today.”

So did inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman. He led the team for the ninth

time in 11 games with 16 tackles and added one sack. His

sideline-to-sideline speed was a key factor in keeping Buffalo’s screen

game in check.

“You can’t say enough about Free,” Indianapolis interim head

coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. “He is a quality, quality

football player, and I’m sure glad he’s on our team. He’s fast, and he can

run with these guys.”

The Bills gained just 304 yards of total offense and didn’t score a

touchdown until the 11:30 mark of the fourth quarter when Fitzpatrick

connected with wide receiver Lee Smith on a 1-yard pass.

“They didn’t give them anything on defense,” Arians said, “hung in there

when they had to.”

The Colts offense made plays when it had to as well.

Indianapolis was clinging to a 10-6 lead late in the second quarter when

the defense forced the Bills to punt from their own 12-yard line. The

Colts took over at their own 49 with 32 seconds to play and marched the

ball to the Buffalo 1.

Veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne -- who set an NFL record with at least

three receptions for the 59th straight game -- was tackled short of the

goal line on a second-and-goal pass from the 3. With no timeouts left,

rookie quarterback Andrew Luck rushed the offense to the line of scrimmage

and spiked the ball with one second remaining.

Adam Vinatieri made the 19-yard field goal to give the Colts a seven-point

halftime lead.

Indianapolis added to that advantage with an 87-yard drive that ate 8:04

off the third-quarter clock. Luck converted four third-down chances on the

march, including an eight-yard touchdown pass to Hilton on third-and-goal.

“We need more of those drives,” Luck said. “I realize that. As an offense,

we realize that. But I think when we needed it most we got that drive and

ended it with a four-minute drive or whatever you want to call it. We need

more of those types of drives.”

Trailing again by seven, Buffalo drove to the Indianapolis 36-yard line

with 4:43 remaining in the game. Safety Tom Zbikowski intercepted

Fitzpatrick’s second-down pass, but he fumbled the ball back to the Bills

at their 47.

Forced to stop Buffalo again, the defense allowed two net yards on the

next three plays and caused a punt with 3:32 to play. The Colts offense

took over at its own 5 and used an 11-yard run by Donald Brown, a 14-yard

reception by Reggie Wayne and a pass interference penalty against Bills

rookie Stephon Gilmore to run out the clock.

The win, coupled with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss to the Cleveland

Browns, gives the Colts a one-game lead for the fifth seed in the AFC

playoffs with five regular season games remaining.

Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano, preparing for his third and final

round of chemotherapy to fight leukemia, again was in attendance. He waved

to fans from owner Jim Irsay’s suite during the fourth quarter and

received a loud ovation.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the football team because Chuck was here, and

the goal was to make him smile when he left,” Arians said. “And I’m sure

he’s up there (in Irsay’s suite) smiling.”