Colts 20 - Bills 13
The Colts gritted out another win at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday afternoon, besting the “Amish Assassin” Ryan Fitzpatrick and the win-hungry Buffalo Bills, 20-13. With the victory, the team moved to 7-4 on the season, having already more than tripled their win total from last year with 5 games still remaining. The possibility of a playoff appearance has Naptown fans everywhere pretty excited. The Horseshoe continues to go on a magical run in honor of their cancer-stricken coach Chuck Pagano, who attended the game and received a standing ovation from the crowd when he appeared on camera in the owner’s box with Jim Irsay. According to doctors, Pagano is in “complete remission” and will begin his third and final round of chemotherapy on Friday. If the Colts do make the playoffs, there’s a possibility Pagano could rejoin the team on the sidelines – as their leader – at that time.
This week’s Horseshoe Hero is starting off with a review of the Special Teams unit, because the group did something pretty…well, special…this afternoon. For the first time ever at Lucas Oil Stadium, a Colt returned a punt for a touchdown. Rookie T.Y. Hilton got the job done, returning Shawn Powell’s punt 75 yards for the score in astonishing fashion. The Colts have become notorious for their poor return team, but that reputation just might be turning around. Hilton, a third round draft pick out of Florida International earlier this year, is having a phenomenal rookie season that’s been overshadowed a little by the remarkable quarterback play of Andrew Luck. The punt return was just his first touchdown of the day.
Elsewhere on special teams, Adam Vinatieri was perfect on the day, successfully converting 2 short field goals and 2 PATs. In total, he contributed 8 points to the Colts scoreboard – 40% of the team’s total points. Pat McAfee was equally solid on the day, far outplaying his Buffalo counterpart and kicking 5 punts for an average of 51.2 yards. His teammates even helped him out. In the first quarter, Sergio Brown made a big play by downing McAfee’s punt at Buffalo’s own 1-yard line.
Special Teams players don’t always get the respect they deserve. They really deserved it today.
Andrew Luck was pressured all day, but it didn’t seem to bother him much. While his 280-yard, 1 touchdown, 1 interception game was not his best effort, it was hardly anything to sneeze at. In fact, those numbers helped Luck pass several notable milestones. With 3,205 total passing yards, Luck now has more than any other rookie quarterback in NFL history. He also tied Sam Bradford for most wins by a rookie quarterback.
I mentioned that T.Y. Hilton’s punt return was just his first touchdown of the day. Well, he also caught Luck’s only touchdown pass of the afternoon. With the score, Hilton became the first Colt in history to record a receiving touchdown and a punt return touchdown in the same game. His receiving touchdown even came after he took a scary hit in the second quarter and left the game with a questionable head injury. I’m thrilled he was okay. The team doesn’t need any more Austin Collie-like scares.
Reggie Wayne also assured himself another place in the record books. He broke Chris Carter’s NFL record by recording his 59th straight game with at least 3 receptions. Wayne led the team in receptions yet again by catching 8 passes for 102 yards.
On the ground, Vick Ballard was the best back, rushing for 41 yards on 13 attempts.
The defense came up big on Sunday, stopping the Bills on 70% of their 3rd down attempts and forcing them to punt 7 times. Linebacker Jerrell Freeman recorded 16 tackles and a sack – Pat Angerer-like numbers from last year. He is currently the leading tackler on the team and is proving himself worthy of a spot in the Pro Bowl. Robert Mathis, a star in his own right, had the other sack.
Tom Zbikowski almost had the play of the day when he intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter, but during his return he fumbled it, and the Bills recovered. He later left the game with an injury. Fili Moala was also injured on the play. Hopefully neither injury is serious.
Next week the Colts will travel to Ford Field to take on the Detroit Lions, who are currently 4-7 after losing in overtime to the Texans on Thanksgiving Day. Check back next Sunday for the Horseshoe Hero recap from the game.
Stay #CHUCKSTRONG, Colts fans!