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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – T.Y. Hilton was back after a three-game absence, but was unable to deliver when it mattered most and in a venue he routinely owns.

His reaction after the Indianapolis Colts dropped a critical 20-17 decision to the Houston Texans Thursday night at NRG Stadium: My bad.

Twice in the second half, Jacoby Brissett looked to his perennial Pro Bowl wideout in third-down situations. Twice, Hilton failed to secure contested passes.

“I’ve got to make that,’’ he told reporters in the locker room after the game. “That’s what I get paid for. I’ve gotta make it.

“I let my team down today. One hundred percent on me.’’

With the Colts ahead 17-13 and facing a third-and-4 at their own 34 late in the third quarter, Brissett’s pass went off Hilton’s hands. Houston cornerback Vernon Hargreaves might have gotten a hand on the ball, or at least bothered Hilton’s concentration.

Houston’s ensuing possession resulted in Deshaun Watson’s 30-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins and a 20-17 lead.

The Colts were moving on their next possession, and reached a third-and-4 at their 47. That’s where it ended when Brissett’s pass went through Hilton’s hands down the right sideline. Texans’ cornerback Johnathan Joseph offered tight coverage.

“I let the team down,’’ Hilton reiterated. “Totally on me. I just played bad. It’s on me.’’

Hilton returned to action after missing the past three games with a calf injury. The team had him on a pitch count.

“(Team doctors) pretty much told me 20-30 snaps would be the recommended snap count,’’ Frank Reich said. “He was feeling a little bit tight from what I understand, so we had to be smart about it. But he was willing to go in there. I give him credit.

“He wanted to be on the field.’’

The Colts had only three casual walk-throughs leading up the Thursday’s game. Hilton was listed as a full participant Wednesday. He injured the calf in an Oct. 30 practice.

The impact of no actual practices in three weeks?

“Absolutely none,’’ Hilton said. “I just played bad. It’s on me.’’

Hilton has had some of his best games at the expense of the Texans. In 16 games, including the playoffs, he had 87 receptions, 1,604 yards and 10 TDs.

Thursday night, he managed just three catches and 18 yards on six targets.

Hilton was uncertain whether he’ll be available for the Dec. 1 meeting with Tennessee in Indy.

“I’ve just got to take it day-by-day,’’ he said. “If I’m able to go, I go. If I can’t, then I won’t.’’

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.