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Colts going 0-3? T.Y. Hilton says it ‘can’t happen, won’t happen’

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T.Y. Hilton

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – We’re two games into the 2017 season and the Indianapolis Colts find themselves at an all-too-familiar spot in the road.

They’re 0-2 for a fourth straight season, and at a crossroads.

Find a way to successfully deal with the visiting and – brace yourself – favored Cleveland Browns Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, or essentially face the likelihood of missing the playoffs in three consecutive seasons for the first time in more than three decades.

The road back remains steep even if the Colts handle the Browns for the eighth time in the last nine meetings in the series. Since the current 12-team playoff format was put in place in 1990, only 12 percent of 0-2 teams regrouped and reached the playoffs.

The Colts were one of the outliers in 2014, but have never advanced to the postseason following an 0-3 start.

This is no time to be thinking about making history.

“Can’t go down 0-3,’’ wideout T.Y. Hilton said Monday. “I don’t think we’ve been down 0-3 since I’ve been here.

“So it can’t happen, won’t happen.’’

That wasn’t a guarantee as much as it was an attempt at showing defiance as the season once again teeters on the brink midway through September. The last time the Colts opened 0-3 was that forgettable 2011 season, and things disintegrated to 0-13, then 2-14.

The Colts made needed and noticeable strides from week 1 to week 2, in large part because they benched Scott Tolzien and turned to Jacoby Brissett. After absorbing a 37-point drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams in the opener, they squandered a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and fell in overtime to Arizona 16-13.

“There are no moral victories,’’ said safety Darius Butler, who missed the game with a hamstring injury. “There are no pats on the back.

“We really just got to find a way to win. We’ve just got to find a way to finish games.’’

That must start Sunday.

“Absolutely, absolutely,’’ Butler said. “I’m speaking for myself, but I feel like it’s a must-win. I know September’s early, but for me, I feel like it’s a must-win for us.’’

Oddsmakers apparently aren’t expecting much from the Colts. They’ve installed the Browns an early 2.5-point favorite.

The Colts either are unaware, or, more likely, indifferent.

“I didn’t know that,’’ veteran defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins said with a soft chuckle. “We just have to go out there and find a way to win.’’

And this from Butler: “I don’t pay attention to lines. We’ve just got to find a way to win regardless if we’re underdogs, favorites, whatever it is.’’

Perhaps, but there’s no denying the obvious slap at the Colts. Cleveland has lost 20 of its last 21 games and hasn’t finished with a winning record since 2007 (10-6).

The Browns are favored for the first time since week 14 of 2015 when they were a 2.5-point pick over the San Francisco 49ers. The last time the Browns were a road favorite was Dec. 2, 2012 when they were installed as 1-point picks over the Oakland Raiders.

For the record, they covered each time.