T.Y. Hilton: Patriots’ game plan was to take me out of the game
|01.12.14 at 6:35 am ET|
FOXBORO — One of Bill Belichick‘s strengths as a coach is that he rarely lets one opposing player beat his team, devising a game plan to take that particular player out of the game.
That is exactly what the Patriots did to Colts star wide receiver T.Y. Hilton on Saturday night after he caught 82 passes for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns in the regular season and then hauled in 13 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Chiefs on wild card weekend.
Although he caught four passes for 104 yards and a touchdown in the game, a large chunk came on a 46-yard completion. Overall the Patriots defense, particularly Aqib Talib, did an outstanding job of taking the star Colts receiver out of the game.
“[Aqib] gets paid, too. He made some plays and I made some plays,” Hilton said. “That was a better team today. I saw the whole book, I saw double, triple and no single and that was the game plan to take me out of the game. We have to step up and unfortunately we didn’t come up with a W. I knew coming in they were going to throw the book at me and I knew the coverages they were going to throw at me.”
After Colts quarterback Andrew Luck torched the Chiefs last weekend for 443 yards and four touchdowns in the air (making up for three interceptions), the Patriots forced Luck into a career-high four interceptions, paving the way for New England to move on to its eighth AFC championship game in 13 years.
“They do a good job of disrupting your timing and rhythm and getting hands on guys,” Luck said. “[They] have a good relentless pass rush and I thought our offensive linemen did a great job this game giving time to get balls out. They do a good job of disrupting things if you could capsulate it in one sentence.”
Winning the turnover battle is important in every game, but it becomes even more important in the postseason, especially if you’re the Patriots.
Prior to Saturday, since 1970, in the postseason the Patriots were 16-1 in games with a positive turnover ratio. The streak continued Saturday night as the Patriots forced four Colts turnovers en route to their 43-22 win with key mistakes by the Colts offense being one of the biggest reasons why.
“We didn’t accomplish things we talked about we needed to do in order to come up here and win,” said Colts coach Chuck Pagano. “Take care of the football, certainly we ddn’t do that. Stop the run, obviously we struggled there. On third down we struggled.”
For Pagano, he’s been facing the Patriots for a number of years now as an assistant with the Ravens since 2008 before becoming head coach of the Colts in 2012, so he knows first-hand what facing a Belichick coached defense is like.
“He’s done it for a long time,” Pagano said. “We knew coming in that he wasn’t going to let our game-wreckers wreck the game and it certainly took awhile for us to get T.Y. going. I think he only had two catches at the half, but then we made some big plays there. Bill’s a good football coach and he’s got good players and he’s got a good staff and he’s always done a good job from a game-plan standpoint of taking away what you do well and making you beat him left-handed. Guys up front did a nice job with the pass rush and put pressure on our quarterback and changed some things up coverage-wise and disguise and those things and forced us into some bad plays. He’s been doing it a long time and is very good at it.”
With the Patriots scoring 14 points off of turnovers, who knows what kind of game it would have been had the Colts played mistake-free football.