First quarter: Hilton rewards
Rookie punter Shawn Powell can’t be blamed for the Indianapolis Colts’ big scoring play of the first quarter.
Powell hit a 48-yard punt after the Bills’ first possession, and it had an excellent hang time of 4.79 seconds, according to The News’ stopwatch. But Bills outside coverage men Ruvell Martin and Ron Brooks were nowhere near the play when the ball was caught.
T.Y. Hilton had 15 yards of room to roam upon fielding the ball. Then Hilton, a third-round draft pick out of Florida International, made Lee Smith miss in the hole with a spin move and he was off to the races. It was a 75-yard touchdown return to put the Colts ahead, 7-0, just 5:04 into the game.
Key plays: The Bills got a 33-yard field goal from Rian Lindell with 4:32 left. A 24-yard receiver screen to T.J. Graham helped set it up. … C.J. Spiller couldn’t hold off blitzing linebacker Jerrell Freeman and it resulted in a sack on the Bills’ first series.
Second-guess: The Colts are one of the young, exciting teams in the NFL. You wouldn’t know it from the noise level in Lucas Oil Stadium. It was a polite crowd.
Second quarter: Kicked aside
The Bills handed Indianapolis a gift field goal at the end of the half.
Buffalo took over on its own 8 with 58 seconds left in the second quarter. But the Bills threw two incomplete passes, then ran a draw play. The Colts used a timeout and got the ball back at their own 49 with 32 seconds left.
Andrew Luck had time to drive the Colts to the Bills’ 1, and Adam Vinatieri kicked a 19-yard field goal to give Indianapolis a 13-6 lead.
Second-guess I: Coach Chan Gailey eschewed a 52-yard field goal try and punted on fourth and 14 from the Colts’ 34. Fifty-two should not be out of Rian Lindell’s range.
Second-guess II: Colts receiver Reggie Wayne appeared to fumble at the end of a 25-yard gain to the Bills’ 3 with 16 seconds left. Bills safety Jairus Byrd looked like he recovered. The Colts called timeout after the play, so there was plenty of time for the replay booth to review it. There was no reversal.
“I took it out,” Byrd said. “I don’t know what happened with the review. I don’t understand.”
Third quarter: Third down and out
Third down has been a nightmare situation for the Buffalo Bills all season. So it went in the third quarter. The Bills gave up four third-down conversions on the Colts’ 87-yard drive to a touchdown.
They were tough conversion situations, too. The Colts converted two third-and-6 plays, a third-and-17 play and a third-and-8. On the third-and-17, the Bills lost track of Reggie Wayne as he crossed the width of the field for a 25-yard catch. T.Y. Hilton caught a TD pass from Andrew Luck on third and goal from the 8 to give Indianapolis a 20-6 lead with 4:02 left.
“He set a record for the first player to return a kick for a touchdown and catch a pass for a touchdown in Colts history,” Colts coach Bruce Arians said of Hilton.
Tip drill: Ryan Fitzpatrick had two passes tipped at the line of scrimmage for incompletions. He had T.J. Graham open down the seam on the first one and Scott Chandler open downfield on the second.
For naught: The Bills had a 7-yard tackle for loss by Nick Barnett and a 7-yard sack by Marcell Dareus but couldn’t get off the field on the 87-yard drive.
Fourth quarter: Wayne’s world
Colts receiver Reggie Wayne continued his miraculous season at age 34 and put the final dagger in the Bills’ hopes with 1:44 to play. Wayne drew an 8-yard pass interference call on Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore to allow the Colts to convert a third-and-10 play and run out the clock.
Wayne caught eight passes for 102 yards. For the season he has a league-leading 84 catches for 1,105 yards. He’s on pace to smash the NFL record for most catches by a player 34 or older – 108 by Jerry Rice set in 1996.
Said Wayne: “Whenever you play 12 years, you’re bound to do something.”
Key plays: Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a 1-yard TD pass to tight end Lee Smith with 11:30 to go.
Second-guess: The Bills had first down at the Colts’ 32 with 5:27 left. Then came a pass for minus-4 yards and an interception induced by pressure on Fitzpatrick. A run would have been nicer on either play.
Defying the odds: Colts linebacker Robert Mathis on his team’s preseason prospects: “I guess that’s why you call them experts. We were picked to finish 1-15 and now we’re sitting at 7-4.”