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It was Hilton’s seventh career multiple-touchdown game and, of course, helped snapped a three-game losing streak for the Colts. They now host the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium next Sunday, with Week 10 now clear of many of the distractions that loomed prior to the Houston contest.
Over his career, Hilton has compiled 10 career 150-plus-yard receiving games, which is tied for the fourth-most in a player’s first six seasons in the NFL. The chatter grew even louder last week, as Hilton’s name was tossed around on the rumor mill as the league’s trade deadline came and went. Hilton’s day included five receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns, and the Colts would need every bit of his production in their 20-14 victory at NRG Stadium.
“It will help. It will help tremendously,” Butler said. “A lot of them had a lot of opportunity to play that they wouldn’t have gotten in a lot of different situations. You know you get that learning experience and the other experience you know being in a lot of close games or leading at halftime then losing in the second half. You learn from that. You have to learn how to win. You have to get beat by certain things and these players they’ll definitely learn from it.”
The rest of the play is the product of Hilton’s top-end speed, as well as some blocking help down the field from Rogers. Hilton, as he’s done so often in his career, is able to snake around at least three members of the Jaguars’ secondary to find an opening to the end zone, getting up to 18.1 miles per hour at the height of his sprint, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Rogers, meanwhile, seals off cornerback Aaron Colvin and cheap Colts jerseys prevents him from even having a shot at Hilton in the final stretch of his run to complete the 40-yard passing play. Hilton, who finished with three receptions for 51 yards, now has 41 receptions for a team-best 791 yards and four touchdowns on the year, and averaging a Colts’ best 19.3 yards per reception.
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So last week, when Carr and Hilton found themselves back practicing together on the same AFC Pro Bowl squad, the two promised each other they’d try to get some payback. Fast forward to the 6:37 mark in the third quarter of Sunday’s Pro Bowl game, and Carr, in for his first series under center for the AFC, didn’t waste much time. On just the third play of the drive, he launched yet another pass deep towards Hilton, who was being draped by All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson.
“It’s always fun playing with Derek,” said Hilton, who led all players with 98 receiving yards on the day. “He told me we were going to get one, and once he threw it I had to go get it. And it was fun making a play.”
Richard Sherman certainly hasn’t forgotten about that day. And if he’s tasked with at times shadowing Hilton throughout Sunday night’s Week 4 matchup at CenturyLink Field, the cornerback said it’ll take a better overall effort from the entire secondary to try to slow Hilton down.
“That’s what they need me to do,” Hilton said. “I’m a big-play guy, so for me it’s just go out there, play my game and make the big plays. Normally when I make those plays, we win.”
With so much already accomplished, however, Hilton isn’t about to become satisfied. He said he’s spent this entire offseason again continuing to work on everything he can to ensure he improves once again and remains a threat all over the field.
Hilton’s right: in the Colts’ four victories in 2017, he averaged more than five receptions for almost 130 yards and scored a combined three touchdowns. So will Sherman be matched up against Hilton throughout Sunday’s game? Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told reporters this week that they’ll just have to wait and see.