INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Adam Vinatieri delivered the game-winning field goal Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, a 51-yarder with 22 seconds remaining.
Jacoby Brissett and T.Y. Hilton made it possible with a pair of eye-popping efforts on the same play.
The scene: First-and-10 at the Indy 11 with 1:48 remaining.
The score: Denver 13, Colts 12.
The predicament: Dire.
Everything turned on the next snap.
Brissett drifted back into the end zone, scanning the field. In a heartbeat, Broncos’ pass-rush phenom Von Miller was on him. Miller had lined up wide to the left of Denver’s formation, but stunted inside and was on Brissett.
Brissett used his strength and athleticism to spin out of Miller’s grasp and move to the right. On the run, he delivered a strike to T.Y. Hilton for a 35-yard gain that survived review. Just like that, first-and-10 at the 46.
How’d the play unfold?
“Uh, drop back, don’t go down and find the best player on the field, to be honest,’’ Brissett said. “It was just T.Y. making one of T.Y.’s plays.
“Just playing free, leaving it all out there.’’
It was so much more than that.
“Man, that play in the end,’’ Frank Reich said, shaking his head in amazement. “Not only to get away from Von Miller and then to make the throw.
“Maybe a couple of quarterbacks in the league that can make that play, but we’ve got one of them. That’s twofold. It’s get away from Von Miller in the end zone, and the throw was stinking impressive.’’
“Only so many guys can get away from Von Miller,’’ Hilton said. “He’s one of them.’’
It was an amazing play from start to finish.
Hilton wasn’t Brissett’s first option.
“I was just doing my job, clearing out for the underneath guy,’’ he said. “I heard the crowd cheering so I looked back and saw him scrambling. I did what I do and got open.’’
Hilton worked free of Chris Harris Jr. and caught Brissett’s pass as he was falling out of bounds.
Consider it one of those plays that a quarterback makes with his prized wideout. On this instance, their eyes locked on each other after Brissett shed Miller.
“I saw (Hilton’s eyes),’’ Brissett said. “It was so weird. I was like, ‘Why are you staring at me?’ It’s just so funny. He just makes those plays and it’s just like effortless.
“We were on the sideline getting ready for the field goal and I’m just like, ‘T.Y. please tell me how did you do that?’ He just does it. He said, ‘It’s just me,’ and I was like, ‘You’re right, that is you.’’’
Brissett finished 15-of-25 for 202 yards and an 85.8 passer rating. Hilton had two catches for 54 yards.
Those numbers hardly indicate their collective impact.
The down-to-the-wire win over the Broncos lifted the Colts to 5-2 and keeps them atop the AFC South.
It also was their seventh straight game decided by 7 points or fewer. It’s the first time since the 1970 merger a team has opened a season 5-2 and had all of its games decided by 7 points or fewer.
“The tough games are always going to be there,’’ Hilton said. “We always look forward to those type of games and when they come, we’re prepared for them.’’
Tough day for Ya-Sin
Rookie cornerback Rock Ya-Sin made his fifth start of the season, and it was unquestionably his roughest. The second-round draft pick was penalized four times – two for holding, two for interference against Courtland Sutton – for 56 yards. Another holding penalty was declined because Sutton made the catch for 14 yards. Sutton had three catches for 72 yards, all against Ya-Sin.
“That’s not a good day,’’ Reich said. “He’ll learn from it. He’s been playing great for us. He’ll learn from this and get better.’’
Brissett made it a point to approach Ya-Sin in the locker room.
“Just said, ‘Dude, just keep playing football,’’’ he said. “You play in those games and they’re probably on the sideline saying, ‘He’s holding, he’s holding.’ So things like that happen.
“But that’s what makes Rock, Rock. He was just like, ‘Of course I’ll keep playing.’ It’s nothing that I really need to say.’’
Tough day, Part II
Ya-Sin’s tough day contributed to a rare sloppy day by the Colts. They entered the game as one of the NFL’s least-penalized teams (33 for 244 yards), but exited with 10 penalties for 103 yards. Each was a season high. Indy aided Denver with six first downs by penalty.
It was that type of day for the Colts. They converted just 4-of-12 third-down situations and had to fight for every one of their 318 yards on offense.
Brissett had been sacked just 7 times in six games, but Denver got to him four times.
Rookie safety Khari Willis left the game in the third quarter with a foot injury and did not return.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.