T.Y. Hilton was told his foot injury would take four weeks to heal.
The injury caused him to miss every practice session last week, with the only work coming with the trainers while running on a treadmill on Friday. Hilton was listed as questionable on the injury report, but no one expected him to play. Including, as it turns out, T.Y. Hilton.
"To be honest, man, I woke up this morning. I didn't know," Hilton said, according to Colts.com. "It was one of these games I didn't want to miss. I just put all my trust in the trainers. I slept in the training room, lived in the training room this whole week."
Despite the work that he put in, however, it wasn't looking likely that he was going to be able to go on Sunday. "I didn't even know I was going to play," Hilton admitted. "I didn't think I was going to play."
Because he was listed as questionable, Hilton was a game-time decision. So before the game, he went out on the field and ran routes. He said that he ran the entire route tree, and if any one of them didn't feel good, he wasn't going to play. But he ran them all and felt good. The coaches told him that he looked good. And so the surprising decision was made to play T.Y. Hilton, despite him missing practice all week and despite the fact that he would be going up against the league's top secondary.
Hilton responded in a big way, hauling in five passes for 82 yards (16.4 yards per reception) to lead the Colts in both categories (Griff Whalen also caught five passes, tying Hilton for the most). Four of his five receptions went for a first down, with three of those conversions coming on third down (Hilton caught one other third down pass in which he was tackled one yard shy of the first down marker). His first reception of the day was one of the best you'll see him make, as Andrew Luck threw a perfect over the shoulder pass downfield and Hilton caught it, somehow hanging on to the football despite being hit hard in the helmet. The Broncos were flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness on top of the 28 yard gain, and it was one heck of a play by Hilton to hang on to it. Even the one that didn't count was impressive, as late in the game Hilton made a great catch on a beautiful Andrew Luck pass along the sideline for a gain of 26, but it was negated because Hilton stepped out of bounds before making the catch.
T.Y. Hilton hasn't had the best of seasons, in large part because he has been dealing with lingering injuries for most of the year. It got to the point where some fans were trying to argue last week that it didn't matter whether Hilton was able to play on Sunday or not. Instead, he ended up having a huge impact on the game and being the Colts' leading receiver despite not thinking he was going to be able to play. It was one of the gutsiest - sorry, grittiest - performances of Hilton's career, and he deserves a lot of credit for it.