- Mike Wells, ESPN Staff Writer
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A 121-yard, three-touchdown game was followed by a 130-yard game for Hilton. Then came double-teams by the opponents to slow the second-year speedster down. The 100-yard receiving games became non-existent for Hilton for six straight weeks for Hilton. He had a game with only 7 yards receiving during that stretch.
Frustrated? No. It was just difficult for Hilton because he was in the position of having to be the go-to receiver a lot sooner than he or many others expected this early in his career.
A sign of change happened for Hilton against Houston on Dec. 15 when he caught a career-high eight passes.
His career day in receptions and yards happened against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
Hilton had a career-high 11 catches for 155 yards -- also a career high -- in the Colts' 30-10 victory over the Jaguars.
“For me, I know the ball is going to come to me,” Hilton said. “It’s just about being patient. They were doubling me. They did that a little, but I’m adjusting to the double-teams and finding a way to get open and finding the spot [quarterback] Andrew [Luck] expects me to be at.”
Hilton was Luck’s primary target early in the game. He caught three passes for 26 yards on the Colts’ opening drive that ended with a Donald Brown touchdown. Hilton had already surpassed his previous career high of eight catches by halftime when he had nine receptions for 95 yards. Luck was 11-of-15 when he targeted Hilton.
Hilton surpassed 1,000-yards receiving for the first time in his career in the first half. Hilton said that was a goal of his coming into the season and even joked that he accomplished the feat quicker than Wayne. It took Wayne four years to record his first 1,000-yard season. When told of Hilton’s comments, Wayne joked back, “Let me know when you get to 11,000 [yards].”
Hilton was easy to defend earlier because he didn’t have much help at receiver. Darrius Heyward-Bey wasn’t cutting it. LaVon Brazill still hadn’t found a rhythm. David Reed was so bad that he ended up getting released. But things have opened up some for Hilton recently because Luck has developed continuity with Brazill, Da'Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen, which will help Hilton and the rest of the offense in the playoffs.
“We know how dynamic he is and we talk a lot about how much of a playmaker he is,” Luck said. “So if we can get the ball in his hands, good things happen. ... [The other receivers are] opening him up, and the tight ends and the running backs. We know the more you can spread the ball around, the better for T.Y. because the more he opens up I think.”