A Perfect Weekend (Except the Bengals)

Emerging star of the weekend.

“T.Y., go win the game.” Chuck Pagano had not said that to Hilton before, and Hilton loved what he heard.

T.Y. Hilton was so tired 90 minutes after the Colts’ 45-44 win Saturday that he said he hoped he could find someone to drive him home from Lucas Oil Stadium—even though he’d brought his car to the game. “I left everything out there,” he said. “I’m too tired to drive. I just want to go to sleep.”

There are many amazing things to consider coming out of one of the craziest playoff games in history. Here are two: The Colts scored five touchdowns in 24 second-half minutes often using four-receiver sets of Hilton, Griff Whalen, LaVon Brazill and Da’Rick Rogers. And Hilton’s 13-catch, 224-yard performance was the biggest receiving day in Colts’ playoff history—bigger than any that Raymond Berry, Marvin Harrison or Reggie Wayne ever had.

We’ve learned one thing about the future of the Colts while the 35-year-old Wayne recuperates from midseason ACL surgery: When the day comes that Wayne can’t play anymore—at least at a high level—Hilton could morph into Andrew Luck’s No. 1 receiver long-term. Check out what Hilton’s done over the past four weeks, all Colts wins, as Luck continues to get used to life without Wayne.

Opp. Tgts. Rec. Yards YPC TDs
HOU 12 8 78 9.8 0
at KC 7 5 52 10.4 0
JAC 15 11 155 14.1 0
KC 18 13 224 17.2 2
Totals 52 37 509 13.8 2

“I’ve always been the No. 1 receiver on my team,” he said. Well, until being drafted by the Colts. Hilton, at 5-9 and 183, doesn’t have the size NFL teams today want in a franchise receiver, and he’ll have to prove that a smaller guy can take the beating over time that top guys do. But the recent production—Hilton’s averaging a nine-catch, 127-yard game over the last month—shows the chemistry between him and Andrew Luck is getting better as time goes on.

Take Saturday night. Indianapolis trailed 44-38 with just under six minutes to play. Just before the Colts took over at their 20 to try to complete the comeback from 28 points down, coach Chuck Pagano had seen enough of the battered Chiefs’ secondary to say to Hilton: “T.Y., go win the game.” He’d not said that to Hilton before, and Hilton loved what he heard. On the fourth play of the drive, from the Colts 36, Luck sent three receivers—Rogers, Hilton and tight end Coby Fleener—in a close bunch to the left, with Hilton in the middle, and before he got too far out of earshot, Hilton heard this from Luck: “Run. Just run.” Rogers would take the corner on a short out, and Fleener a clear-out route across the middle. Hilton, Luck hoped, would beat his man off the line, and with the Chiefs curiously playing Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry close to the lane, Luck hoped the deep middle would be open for Hilton.

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

“I got to the line and saw 39 [safety Husain Abdullah] across from me, and I thought, ‘We’ve got to take advantage of this,’ ” said Hilton. The speed matchup, he meant. “[Brandon] Flowers was out for them and so was [Dunta] Robinson, so I knew they were running out of corners.” After Hilton got by Abdullah, he bisected safeties Kendrick Lewis and Quintin Demps. Watching the play a few times, it’s clear the trust Luck has with Hilton. When he wound up to throw the ball, which traveled 45 yards in the air, Luck didn’t see Hilton open; he hadn’t cleared either of the two safeties running with him. But by the time the ball landed in Hilton’s hands, he had three yards on his pursuers. The throw was perfect. The touchdown was easy.

A little Hilton history: His given name is Eugene T.Y. Hilton, but no one calls him Eugene. His dad’s name is Tyrone, and the T.Y. is for “Little Ty.” Raised in Miami, T.Y. became a dad in high school and had several schools competing for him to come play wide receiver. The night before he decided where to go, he put two caps—West Virginia’s and the hometown Florida International’s—in front of his infant son. He said he son put his hand on the FIU cap six straight times. And that’s why Hilton stayed home and became the best player the fledgling program has ever produced.

Now the Colts play the Patriots in Foxboro in the divisional round Saturday night. Luck and Hilton have been there once, for an embarrassing 59-24 loss last season. The Pats had better find someone to cover Hilton (Aqib Talib, physically, perhaps) because Luck’s going to him a lot. For now, Hilton’s his go-to guy. “I’m ready for the role,” Hilton said. Apparently so.

* * *

And it’s another game of Manning versus the One-And-Done Guy.

When Peyton Manning was deciding on his next team in March of 2012, he had a meeting at the Broncos training facility that included the offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy, and the defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio. “Tell me something,” said Manning, who wanted badly to come to a stable environment without the threat of coaching change. “Are you guys one-and-done? If we have a good year and you get an offer, are you guys out of here?”

Del Rio was new to Denver and assured Manning that it’d take a tremendous job for him to leave after his Jacksonville experience.

“I was honest with him,” McCoy said from Cincinnati Sunday afternoon. “He looked right at us and asked the question, and I understood where he was coming from. But I told him I couldn’t promise him anything. If an opportunity came up, I was going to explore it.”

(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Manning really liked McCoy. As did the Chargers. After the Broncos’ divisional-round playoff loss to Baltimore last January, it took 48 hours for the Chargers to decide McCoy would be the best partner for new GM Tom Telesco, and McCoy got the head-coaching job.

“What Peyton did for my career—and what everyone in Denver did, John Fox and John Elway and Pat Bowlen and the players, I owe them everything. I’m here today because of those people,” McCoy said.

“Here” is the NFL’s Final Eight, hugging just-had-to-be-there Chargers fan Phil Mickelson and his family (and Telesco too) after beating Cincinnati 27-10. McCoy and the Chargers return to the site of their biggest win this year, the 27-20 Thursday-nighter in Denver a month ago, to challenge Manning for the third time this year.

I’m not saying McCoy has the institutional knowledge of a Bill Belichick (who has 17 games against Manning as a head coach). But since Manning returned from his neck problems, he’s had two offensive coordinators and confidants: McCoy and Adam Gase, this year’s coordinator. So McCoy clearly know the routes Manning likes and the plays he wants to run. But this will be a classic spy versus spy scenario. Manning knows McCoy knows, and so Manning’s going to take McCoy’s knowledge and try to counter how he thinks McCoy will play him. And so forth.

“Hey, he’s going to do what he wants,” McCoy said. “They’re the best offense in history. We could call out every play before the snap, and he’s still going to make play after play. He dissects people. We just have to try to be efficient as we can.”

Anything else?

“Score touchdowns,” McCoy said, “not field goals.”

McCoy’s a great example of a guy who’s been waiting for the day he got a chance to be a head coach, full of ideas he’s packed away over the years. He always knew he’d want to take a head-coaching job with an established quarterback and might turn down opportunities with no quarterback in-house. He knew he’d empower a smart staff to be idea people. McCoy and his staff—credit offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and quarterbacks coach Frank Reich too—have made Philip Rivers more efficient by giving him more alternatives. Danny Woodhead and Keenan Allen give Rivers two options in space he didn’t have a year ago, and Ryan Mathews finally is playing like a first-round running back. There’s a strong backup tight end, Ladarius Green, behind Antonio Gates now. And the defense in Cincinnati was superb. “John Pagano does a phenomenal job of studying tendencies and coming up with ways to disguise them. The interception by Melvin Ingram [off Andy Dalton] was a perfect example,” said McCoy.

I think San Diego-Denver’s the game of the weekend.

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537 comments
PubliusK
PubliusK

Hey Peter.  I was looking at your One and Done piece and thought: finally someone is talking about Peyton's playoff futility.  Then I read it.  I thought that Jack Del Rio and Mike McCoy were asking Peyton if he was a one and done guy like he has been for the majority of his playoff career.  Peyton is a freakish fantasy guy.  It is the reason why he gets the love.  His stats are amazing, the best ever.  So if we're going to look at stats, why not look at these:  12 playoff appearances (amazing) 8 years or 67% one and done (not so much) and 10 seasons where he played in 2 games or less (seeing a trend).  In the seasons where 'he' was successful and went further, it was the defense that won it, not Peyton.  In his SB year, he threw 3 TD's and 7 INT's and got bailed out.  His career playoff record is sub .500 (9-11).  In other words, he does not win unless his defense is superior.  And this one gave up more points than any other team in the AFC other than the Raiders and Browns.  Add to this the fact that the team he is playing has never lost to him in a playoff game and has given up fewer points than all but 3 other AFC teams, we are not beating up on the poor guy, we're pointing out the obvious.  Can we take back his 'Sportsman of the Year' award when he does it again?

Jon8
Jon8

I like the all the home teams except Carolina.

scuser1985
scuser1985

I don't care what anyone thinks about previous games, it's going to be the Seahawks and the Broncos on that SB field. This 2014 Super Bowl survey tells us the same too (http://questionpro.com/t/AKpfOZQkn5) Sure, 49ers and Patriots come close, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing Russell Wilson step onto that field. 

cozmikrebl
cozmikrebl

Andy Dalton gets raked over the coals throughout most of the article leading the reader to believe he was the sole reason the Bengals lost yet when it comes to the headline we get "except the BENGALS" and under "things i didn't like"  "same old BENGALS". Well, whose fault is it Dalton's or the entire team? Make up your mind.

Fran Fried
Fran Fried

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me: That you used to work in the original "Jeopardy" studio. Much coolness. I started watching the show when it first aired in 1964 and I was a precocious 3-year-old tot in Brooklyn. One of my life goals is to be a five-time champ. And I'm preparing to take the online test again tomorrow night. I've been in the contestant pool three times now -- the fourth has to be the charm, right?

kissandraknight
kissandraknight

peter ... either you or bedard needs to change the name of your column. seriously. what happened to creative thought? surely mmqb isnt all there is.

scottmacnj@aol.com
scottmacnj@aol.com

BTW- can anyone tell me what the rule for Pass Interference is now, regular season or post season? At least when the rule was yo couldn't touch an eligible receiver when the ball was in the air it was clear. Now with all the pushing off (both offense and defense) "incidental contact", etc. I have no idea what the rule is and I don't think the officials do either. 

scottmacnj@aol.com
scottmacnj@aol.com

If they are using all star officials how the heck did Jeff Triplett get in?!

Serena
Serena

Dalton 3 turnovers = Goat

Luck 3 turnovers = NFL glowing over him


An the media doesn't have favourites

GregAtkin
GregAtkin

Another great PK article  but  the Fouts/train conversation is just showing off.

We get it Pete; players call you.

Never ever did Friedman of the NY times or Elsberg mention how Presidents talked to them. It's like a pilot bragging that he talked to air traffic control.

JeremyMartinM
JeremyMartinM

Agreed about Andy Reid's dumb time management. Real dumb. 

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

Hey, PK. Here's your coffee nerd answer. I just cleaned my K-Cup machine for the third time following the same process.

Fill the reservoir with water until nearly full. Leave enough room for a cup of white vinegar. After adding vinegar fill to top with water.

Now just run the water through continuously, continuing to add water for 15 or 20 times.

After the 20th time or so, change out the cup you have been using and run it one more time. Take a big sniff of the hot water. If you still smell vinegar, run some more water through it. If no vinegar smell make a cup of coffee and do the taste test. It should be fine.

Like I said, used this method three times with great success.

usurper
usurper

Gushing about Kapernick when he was pedestrian passing wise against one of the worst D's in the league and lost the game for his team with an egregious pick on the final drive...except the Packer dropped it.  He had a couple nice throws and some fine runs in an otherwise poor game.

TimLynch1978
TimLynch1978

It's funny, every opponent for the 49ers now is a revenge game for them...but the Broncos ain't getting past the Chargers.  lol  The Broncos are 1-1 against Chargers...the 49ers are 0-1 against the Panthers.


Way to spread the love dillhole.

psychsports
psychsports

The Saint-Eagles game reinforces the old cliché –that is why they play the games!

Few gave the Saints a chance in this game and actually I had my doubts (see below). But I did think that Sean Peyton, Drew Brees and the crew were going to find a way to give Kelly’s group a hard time.

I also felt that Rob Ryan who is underrated in my opinion was going to do just enough to take the edge off the Eagles game and he did that and more.

Sean Payton and crew outfoxed Kelly no one gave the Saints a chance that is why they play the games.

Read more…..

-http://psychologyofsports.com/2014/01/05/saints-eagles-brees-payton-and-ryan-sink-eagles-updated-picks/

.

psychsports
psychsports

Andy Dalton is going to be stuck with the stigma that he cannot win in the playoffs until he does so. He had another horrendous game and his team joined him. The Bengals are going home left to figure out what went wrong after a great regular season and perhaps to ponder what to do with Dalton.

You can bet that there will be a ton of stories speculating if the Chargers are a team of destiny.

http://psychologyofsports.com/2014/01/05/dalton-and-bengals-fail-again-and-fall-to-chargers-denver-charger-preview/

jooo83
jooo83

Peter king should drop political views from his column. Not sure why he or others (Michael Wilbon, Bob Costas, etc) think we are interested in the marriage between political commentary and sports commentary. 

big55ed
big55ed

Would love to see the Chargers win the SB since they got in on the Steelers dime the same way the Steelres usually get in, bad officiating.

bbc
bbc

Would be fun to watch where Chargers end up on these rankings if they manage to win the SB. I'm guessing they might be able to nudge Saints and get as high as 5.

EmmittDale
EmmittDale

Fine fifteen is stupid once the playoffs start. Just make fine whatever amount of teams are still in the playoffs.

AlainLapointe
AlainLapointe

Predictions for next weekend , home teams will lose in the AFC and win in the NFC .

liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3

sooo...Peter King just told everybody about Aaron Rodgers probable social life, admomishing you to "leave it alone"...the exact opposite of what Peter King did by bringing it up.

wwwcash
wwwcash

correction:

andrew luck dug himself a hole and andy reid dug him out of it.

onemoremile
onemoremile

The Vikings took Christian Ponder with the 12th pick the same year that Dalton and Kaepernick were drafter 35 and 26.  Yeouch!

George
George

king actually DID make one decent point this week


I was amused and slightly aggravated by some of the "muggings" of receivers by dbs - that were ignored by zebras, with enabler-commentators providing the same old lame excuse:  "it's the playoffs - let 'em play." 


I hate cheap ticky-tack chicken-yet-game-impacting  PI calls as much as the next person -

but the refs need to at least try to call *flagrant* examples of pass interference and defensive holding the same way they do during the regular season.


Or hey, just remove defensive holding and pass interference rules during the playoffs altogether.  

Equip all defensive backs & receivers with sharp close-in-fighting hand daggers and pepper spray too while we're at it - fun to watch for the whole family!!  Let 'em "play!"

:D


Starstruck
Starstruck

Good photo in this piece of the Chargers contacting Dalton as he fumbled hitting the ground. He had full control of the ball before he hit the ground. Why doesn't the rule ' The ground cannot cause a fumble' apply here? Why does the NFL make an exception for a QB vs. any other position? This is a rule that needs to be changed. Once a QB starts running, he loses the protection that is normally afforded a QB under NFL rules. So why isn't he judged under the rules of a runner and protected against a fumble clearly caused by the ground?  

canadianox
canadianox

@Serena W despite 3 picks, 4 TDs passing, one rushing TD (in one of most heads up plays I have ever seen) and 443 yds helped the glow.

KevinB2014
KevinB2014

@Serena Seriously?  Luck's 3 turnovers were balanced by an incredible comeback effort. After his first two interceptions, his next two possessions resulted in TDs. Then the third interception, followed by three more TDs.  Dalton's 3 turnovers were balanced by.....nothing.

Luck's playing next weekend.

Dalton's looking into disguises so he won't be harassed by everyone in southwestern Ohio over the next 8 months.

Anyone who knows anything about football favors Luck over Dalton. Don't blame the messenger.

blynder
blynder

@Serena 

If Dalton had won; that might be different.  That's is a pretty big IF tho

GregAtkin
GregAtkin

@usurperNot an easy pick at all but i agree with your sentiments. Lots of blatant favouritsm with PK. But i still like the guy.

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

At least Dalton leads his team to the playoffs. Chokey Romo -- not so much.

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

It's Peter King's column. If you don't like to read what he wants to write, read someone else's column.

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

@jooo83 You might be the millionth person with that view. Don't think he cares if you still you read his column.

#31DShell
#31DShell

@big55ed You MUST be from Seattle. Believe it or not, the Steelers get their full share of bad calls too. I'll take Big Ben over Jerramy Stevens any day.

jj55
jj55

@bbcWell, maybe. Do you think Peter and the rest of the East Coast media would actually mention the Chargers by name if they won, or would they simply focus on why the other team lost? 

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

Yeah, that's a pretty valid point. Maybe he should rename it each week to something like Top O'the Heap of Who's Left.

#31DShell
#31DShell

@liquidmuse3 I hadn't heard about it until he mentioned it. Resisted the momentary urge to Google it. Continuing to do so.

canadianox
canadianox

@wwwcash Andrew Luck is filthy money.......he is more money than the US prints every month. I just drank a gallon of the koolaid on Saturday and think he will put up another 40+ points on the Pats. That being said, D may give up  over 50, seems like DBs for Indy don't mind letting receivers behind them.

canadianox
canadianox

@onemoremile Brady was a 6th rounder, Alfred Morris was too, so was Antonio Brown, Terrel Davis was 6th rounder for Broncos (Elway was pleased to see him). Ponder may be better than Dalton. Arian Foster wasn't drafted. Kijana Carter went first overall. Drafting is not an exact science, if it were, parity would be insane.

canadianox
canadianox

@George I have an even better idea than King's....IMHO....call the regular season PI penalties the same as they did this weekend. There is far too much throwing it up for grabs on long passes with  sole intention of looking for P.I. penalties.....specifically Brady, P Manning and Rodgers. It is so nice when players decide the game, not the officials.

Devilsreject97
Devilsreject97

@MartinPStockdaleHad Romo not gotten hurt, I say they make the playoffs....and playing with a messed up back like he did and winning the game he played....is pretty darn impressive. I'd rather have Romo than Dalton..

George
George

@canadianox @George True - up to a point.  I get sick of (e.g.) Broncos receivers going palms up and whining after every incomplete pass where a db had the gaul to try to cover them.


But there HAS to be limits.  Otherwise I just tell my dbs "mug the $#*t out of 'em and sit on 'em" right at the line of scrimmage, or hold / smother them if they get by you.   It's a complex issue with 2 sides to it.

Starstruck
Starstruck

@UBERTAXTHERICH Looks like a touch to me, but regardless, does a RB or receiver have to be touched to negate a fumble caused by the ground? 

pmk1790
pmk1790

@Starstruck @UBERTAXTHERICH The ball was already out before he was touched and the rule doesn't apply to any runners. Its mean so if a player in the air gets hit and loses the ball upon contact with the ground. Any time a ball carrier (RB, QB, TE, WR, etc) simply loses the ball after full possession without being hit (unless he gives himself up, which a headfirst dive is not) it is going to be called a fumble. 

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