Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne is very likely the second greatest playoff receiver of all time, behind only the legendary Jerry Rice. But after Saturday's game, one of his teammates now holds the distinction for what is very likely the best single playoff receiving game of all time.
T.Y. Hilton was dominant on Sunday and deserves all the credit he will get this week - and much, much more. Hilton caught 13 passes (tied for second most all-time) for 224 yards (3rd most all-time) and 2 touchdowns (tied for second most all-time). And he notched all of those single-game achievements in the same game.
For comparison's sake, only four players (including Hilton) have amassed over 220 receiving yards in a single playoff game. Here are their respective games, compared in this nifty table:
|1||Eric Moulds (BUF)||1999||9||240||1|
|2||Anthony Carter (MIN||1988||10||227||0|
|3||T.Y. Hilton (IND)||2014||13||224||2|
|4||Reggie Wayne (IND)||2004||10||221||2|
Wayne's statistics compare very nicely to Hilton's, but consider the fact that it came in a 25-point victory and it puts Hilton's clearly above it. Because keep in mind - not only was T.Y. Hilton great on Saturday, but the Colts absolutely needed him to be.
His impact was never more apparent than on the Colts final two scoring drives of the game. Down by 10 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Colts went on a 12-play, 90 yard drive that consumed only 4:02 on the clock and was capped by Andrew Luck returning a fumble 5 yards for a touchdown (yeah, seriously, that happened). At one point during the drive, Luck hit Hilton on 3 out of 4 plays and combined it accounted for 42 of the 90 yards on the drive. On the following drive - well, let's just say T.Y. made the most memorable play of his young career so far.
Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman tells it well in his article today on Luck:
"You okay with T.Y. on the post?" [offensive coordinator Pep] Hamilton asked [quarterback Andrew] Luck.
Luck looked over to the sideline where Hamilton stands during the game. Luck didn't say a word. He smiled and shook his head yes. He loved it.
Then came the snap. The T.Y. is wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. The play had Hilton run a post and another receiver run underneath.
Just seconds before the Colts broke the huddle, Hilton and Luck had a brief conversation. Luck told him: "Man, just run. Just run."
Hilton indeed just ran. The Colts were bunched in a three-wide formation to the left, and Hilton ran the deep post route. Luck wanted it all the way, and it worked out perfectly, as Hilton got behind the entire defense and especially beat two Chiefs defensive backs. A perfect pass from Luck hit Hilton in stride and he sprinted into the end zone for a 64-yard touchdown - the go-ahead score to complete a massive 28-point comeback and put the Colts on top for good with 4:21 left in the game.
Hilton jumped and spiked the ball into the ground emphatically as he scored, and the T.Y. dance never seemed sweeter as Lucas Oil Stadium erupted.
Give Luck credit for getting Hilton the football, absolutely. And I've already stated why Luck deserves the biggest credit for the comeback. But to take anything away from Hilton is also a big mistake. He was phenomenal this game.
In fact, it was the second game in a row in which Hilton completely dominated. Last week in the regular season finale against the Jaguars, he caught 11 passes for 155 yards. This week, in the wild card game against the Chiefs on a MUCH, MUCH bigger stage, he was even better, catching 13 passes for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns. The last two weeks combined? 24 catches, 379 yards, 2 touchdowns. That's impressive. Very impressive.
And considering that Hilton's performance on Saturday came in a game in which the Colts stormed back from 28 points down and in which Hilton played a huge role in the offense? Yeah, I feel very comfortable saying that his game this weekend was the greatest single-game postseason receiving performance of all-time.