INDIANAPOLIS -- Something had to change for Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton. He was an afterthought in their Week 1 victory over Oakland after having an impressive enough preseason that an argument could have been made for him to open the season as the team’s second receiver opposite Reggie Wayne.
Hilton proved that when he had six catches for a career-high 124 yards against Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
“It felt pretty good but you know we got the loss so I got to do better and just hopefully I can do my best,” Hilton said.
That’s just Hilton being humble.
Coach Chuck Pagano, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and quarterback Andrew Luck spent the days leading up to the game answering questions about the lack of involvement Hilton had in the offense against the Raiders. Hilton was targeted five times and had three catches for 20 yards against Oakland. Fullback Stanley Havili was on the field for more plays (26) than Hilton (24) in Week 1.
That won't cut it.
It was obvious the Colts made Hilton a focus in the offense early Sunday. He had three catches for 54 yards by the end of the first quarter.
“We knew we had to get him back involved,” Pagano said. “We made big plays and he made huge plays. It was good to see him get back and have the number of catches and big plays. He’s an explosive guy.”
Hilton’s best catch came late in the first half when he went over the top of Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes and hauled in a 47-yard pass down the right sideline. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw scored four plays later.
Hilton had already set a career high in receiving yards by the end of the first half.
“We know T.Y.’s a stud,” Luck said. “The one he caught on the right side before the end of the half was something special. We know he’s a phenomenal football player.”
But Hilton vanished in the second half. Luck targeted him three times, but he didn’t have any more catches.
“I didn’t give T.Y. good enough balls on some of his routes, a chance for him to get up there and make plays,” Luck said. “So I think a lot of that burden falls on me.”
Hilton’s importance in the offense could increase because Darrius Heyward-Bey missed the second half with a shoulder injury. He’s scheduled to get an MRI on his shoulder.