Houston is like a third home to Hilton. There’s South Florida, where he grew up. Indianapolis, where he’s been since 2012. And then there’s NRG Stadium in Houston, where Hilton has had some of the best games of his nine-year NFL career.
Hilton, whose play this season has raised questions on his future in Indianapolis beyond this season, had his best game in nearly two years when he had eight receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown in the Colts' 26-20 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
The victory was necessary for the Colts because Tennessee was nearly 800 miles away getting beat by Cleveland. The Colts and Titans are again tied atop the AFC South with 8-4 records. The teams split their season series.
The 110 receiving yards ended a streak of 21 straight games without topping 100 yards for Hilton. Sunday was his first 100-yard receiving game since he had 138 yards against the New York Giants in Week 16 of the 2018 season, when Andrew Luck was still quarterback of the Colts.
Hilton has showed some life recently, breaking out from the worst season of his career with 81 yards receiving against the Titans in Week 12.
Sunday against the Texans was his fifth game with at least 100 yards receiving against them in nine games in Houston. He’s averaging 117 yards a game in those contests.
Hilton did his damage in the first half against the injury-depleted Texans secondary. The strong passing game set things up for the Colts to run the ball in the second half. Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor, who missed the Week 12 game after being placed on the COVID-19 reserve list, finished with 91 yards rushing and the Colts gained a total of 109 rushing yards.
The Colts need more of Hilton during the stretch run because they are far from a lock to make the playoffs. They’re on the road next week to play at Las Vegas, which only has one fewer loss than the Colts. Indianapolis also has to go on the road to play at undefeated Pittsburgh in Week 16.
Coming up big on defense: The Colts were on the brink of blowing it after coach Frank Reich’s decision to go for it on fourth down deep in Houston territory -- instead of kicking a field goal to take a seven-point lead -- didn’t work.
That wasn’t it for the defense.
The Texans were knocking on the door to win the game when they were at the Colts’ 2-yard line with less than a minute remaining when linebacker Anthony Walker jumped on a fumbled snap by Watson to seal the victory for the Colts.
O-line problems: It’s bad enough that the Colts were missing starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo. It got even worse when Le'Raven Clark, Castonzo’s replacement, left the game with an ankle injury Sunday.
It’s uncertain how bad Clark’s ankle injury is, but there’s no timetable on when Castonzo will be back from his sprained MCL injury, which means the Colts could be playing the stretch run of their season with a third-string left tackle trying to protect Rivers’ blind side.