It's a situation Hilton has been in in the past. The Colts receiver would go several games without having an impact on the game, his lack of production would be questioned and then he would go out and respond with a big performance.
Hilton only had 106 receiving yards through the first two weeks entering Sunday’s game against Cleveland. By the end of the game, however, the NFL’s leading receiving in 2016 had seven catches for 153 yards and a touchdown on the day. He topped his season total in receiving yards when he had 145 yards in the first half.
“I’m a leader, and at the end of the day, when I speak they listen,” Hilton said. “I was just trying to make plays. For us to have success, I have to make plays. If I don’t, we struggle. I came out with the mindset that I’m going to put the team on my back and play.”
The script is almost identical to what happened last season for Hilton. He had 120 yards receiving through the first two games and then went off 174 yards in Week 3 against San Diego.
A key for Hilton and the Colts against the Browns was that he got involved in the offense early in the game. Five of his seven receptions came in the first half, including his 61-yard touchdown catch.
“There was going to be a sound defense that we were facing,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “There were going to be some chances and some opportunities. We just have to make good on them, and he did that. He made big plays for us.”
Hilton was the go-to player for quarterback Jacoby Brissett when the Browns blitzed. Brissett was 5-of-7 for 118 yards with that touchdown pass when throwing to Hilton when Cleveland blitzed, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“I was happy watching the show like y’all were,” Brissett said. “He’s a great player. You give him the ball and he is able to do a lot of magical things with it. I think the offensive line gave me a lot of good opportunities to stand in there and give him a chance. A lot of guys, on his touchdown, there were a lot of guys down the field that made a lot of good blocks. He just made a lot of plays.”