NFL: Colts 20, Bills 13
INDIANAPOLIS • Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton made history Sunday.
Indianapolis' other emerging rookie star returned a punt 75 yards for one touchdown and caught an 8-yard pass from Andrew Luck in the third quarter to lead the Colts past Buffalo 20-13.
For the Colts (7-4), it was a milestone victory.
The win strengthened Indy's playoff position, Andrew Luck joined the 3,000-yard club, Reggie Wayne moved up two spots on the NFL's career receptions list and Hilton became the first player in franchise history to score on a receiving touchdown and on a kick return in the same game.
Ailing head coach Chuck Pagano was there to see and savor every special moment.
It was the second straight game Pagano has attended since being diagnosed with leukemia on Sept. 26. Pagano also received a standing ovation from the crowd when he appeared with team owner Jim Irsay briefly. Both waved to the fans.
But this was no textbook win for the Colts.
Offensively, they were sluggish. Luck finished 20 of 37 for 240 yards with one touchdown and one interception. And defensively, they couldn't quite keep the Bills at arm's length.
C.J. Spiller ran 14 times for 107 yards to lead Buffalo (4-7), which still has not won at Indianapolis since 1998 and has dropped seven of the last eight against their former AFC East rival. Ryan Fitzpatrick was 17 of 33 for 180 yards with one TD and one interception, and Stevie Johnson caught six passes for 106 yards.
The Bills did end their red-zone touchdown drought when Fitzpatrick threw a 1-yard TD pass to Lee Smith to cut Indy's lead to 20-13 with 11:30 left in the game.
But that wasn't quite enough against Hilton and the Colts.
Hilton got things started by fielding Shawn Powell's 48-yard punt at his own 25, faking out Smith, breaking another tackle in the middle of the field and sprinting to the end zone for Indy's first punt return for a score in five years.
Then things bogged down.
The Bills reached the red zone twice and managed just a pair of short field goals from Rian Lindell, who hit from 33 yards and 31 yards.
Indy countered with a 25-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri late in the second quarter, and then took advantage of Buffalo's errant time management and the officials' adding 1 second to the game clock after it hit 0:00. Vinatieri's 19-yard field goal as time expired to give Indy a 13-6 halftime lead.
Hilton provided the spark in the second half, too.
Luck took the Colts on a 15-play, 87-yard drive to open the second half with his steady, methodical play, finally hooking up with Hilton in the back of the end zone for an 8-yard score that made it 20-6.
All the Bills could get in the second half was Fitzpatrick's TD pass.