“It was huge. Nobody picked us again, but we’re always the underdog, underdog always comes out on top and that’s how we feel.” – Wide Receiver T.Y. Hilton on Sunday’s victory.
The Colts’ 34-28 win over the Seahawks yesterday, as we know, nearly plunged into an outright blowout. Down 12-0 in the first quarter, Indianapolis was dangling on the precipice of football disaster – their first three drives netted 9 total yards – when they dialed up a vertical play to T.Y. Hilton (after a three and out by the defense).
Andrew Luck, with a defender pushing guard Mike McGlynn backward into him, sidestepped the pressure and hit a streaking Hilton, who caught the ball around the 31 yard line, made one man miss along the sideline, and jetted into the endzone to complete a 73-yard touchdown.
Luck’s pass traveled over 40 yards in the air, and the electrifying Hilton was able to catch it in stride. “I think the corner sat a little bit on the shallow or out route, if you will,” Luck said of Hilton’s touchdown catch. “When T.Y. is running fast, not many guys can catch him. He had some space. The line did a great job protecting. In those situations, give him a ball that he doesn’t have to slow down for and see what happens. When he gets the ball in his hands, good things happen. It turns into a punt return. When he starts running, good things happen.”
At 20-yard line, Hilton had to avoid the Seahawks safety Earl Thomas as well as the sideline, which can become a defender’s best friend in that situation. With the speedy Thomas bearing down on him, he put on the brakes at the perfect moment and almost immediately reignited the afterburners to the endzone. “Yeah,” Hilton said, “I knew where I was and he was kind of over-pursuing so I gave him a little step back move and went to the house.” Nicely done, T.Y.
Another crucial turning point in the came courtesy of the field goal block unit, who swatted down Steven Hauschka’s 48 yard field goal attempt early in the second quarter. Lawrence Guy, who’d just re-signed off the street 19 days earlier, batted the ball off to the right, where safety Delano Howell snagged it out of the air and took it 61 yards the other way for the score.
“Yeah, it definitely gave us some momentum,” Howell said of his touchdown. “We never stopped believing. We understood that we were going to have to play for 60 minutes. So it was definitely a big play and it was a team effort. With the block and me just catching it, everybody did their part. So it was definitely good for us.”
It was the team’s first blocked kick returned for a touchdown since MLB Rob Morris ran one back in a 51-24 home victory over the Titans in 2004 (what a great season that was), but it almost didn’t quite happen. The surprisingly athletic Hauschka nearly ran Howell down before being blocked rather emphatically by LB Mario Harvey.
“He was kind of quick though,” Howell said of the Seahawks kicker. “I wasn’t even expecting that. So respect to him. I heard he was a wide receiver at one point. Hey, I don’t know. It was just good to be able to catch that ball and take it to the house.”
A Few (okay several) Leftover Quotes
Robert Mathis on whether he stops to reflect after such a huge career milestone (his 100th career sack): “I don’t have time to do that. We have a goal and that’s to get to New York in February. Any and everything it takes to get there, that’s what it takes.”
Chuck Pagano on the Colts’ level of play in the fourth quarter: “They have a great runner, they got great players, they're a great football team. And so we knew, again, if we got into the fourth quarter, nobody's built, I don't think, nobody's built better to win these close games, especially down the stretch, especially in the fourth quarter, than this team.”
Pete Carroll, Seahawks HC, on Andrew Luck: “Oh, he’s a fantastic player, he made some incredible throws and they made some great catches, but they needed every one of them and they made them. The time he spun out and hit the guy on the big third-and-nine conversion was a phenomenal play and Reggie (Wayne) made a couple of great catches, just some fantastic throwing catches, we were right on guys. You got to give them credit. They did a nice job.”
Andrew Luck on the team’s resiliency, coming up with the win after being down 12-0 early: “It sure felt like a lot more than 12 points. Then you look up at the scoreboard and it’s 14-12 and we’re up. It didn’t feel like we’re up. Guys keep fighting. It’s been that way since I’ve been here. I think it’s really set by Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, Cory Redding, the veteran guys. They just play football. I bet Robert doesn’t even look at the scoreboard during the game. He’s just going as hard as he can every play. We just try to follow him.”
Seattle CB Richard Sherman on whether the pass interference penalties will change the way he plays: “No it doesn’t change anything. Flags like that are going to happen on the road. You’re not going to get any calls. You’re not going to get any anything and that’s just how it happened. We’ll go back, we’ll clean up our mistakes and we’ll go back out there Sunday and execute.”
Sherman on Andrew Luck, his teammate at Stanford: “Luck played a solid game. I’m sure he’s not as happy as he would be if he played better. He played a solid game. He executed down the stretch. That’s all that counts.”
Trent Richardson on his huge third down conversion late in the game: “Big third down carry man. It was a power play. Went up the middle. And I knew, I told myself I know that’s what they brought me here for. Not to let one man take me down. Not to let one arm tackle take you down. So I kind of stumbled over somebody. I caught my balance. And somebody else came and tried to hit me and I lowered my shoulder and I tried to run through somebody. That’s the football I play. That’s a signature move for me.”
Donald Brown, who scored the go-ahead touchdown, on bouncing back from an awful start: “We knew the task at hand. We knew it was going to be a 60-minute fight. On paper, two evenly matched teams and we just knew it was going to be a 60-minute fight. It was and that was one heck of a football team that we just beat.”
The soft spoken Jerrell Freeman on the defense seizing the opportunity to make the final stop with the game on the line: “Oh definitely. To get stops when you need them. You know it’s on your shoulders. It’s definitely a good a feeling to go out there and get that stop.”
Darius Butler on being 4-1: “It sounds great. We let one get away, but 4-1 sounds real good right now.”
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