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HBO 'Hard Knocks' 2021: Best Colts Storylines, Moments, Reaction for Episode 4

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIDecember 9, 2021

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) visits with fans following an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Justin Rex )
AP Photo/Justin Rex

The events before, during and after the Indianapolis Colts' 31-0 win over the Houston Texans served as the centerpiece for this week's edition of Hard Knocks.

The Colts entered the game coming off a hard-fought 38-31 home loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers after blowing a 24-14 halftime lead.

That left the Colts on the outside looking into the playoff picture in a tight AFC where the No. 1 seed (the 9-4 New England Patriots) and the 13th-placed team (the 6-7 Miami Dolphins) are separated by just three games.

However, the 7-6 Colts got back on track with a dominant victory over the Texans. Running back Jonathan Taylor rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns, and the Colts defense allowed just 141 scrimmage yards.

As for this week's episode, Colts wideout T.Y. Hilton received some attention.

It's been a tough season for the 10-year veteran, who has been held to just six games because of injury. He started the year on injured reserve because of a neck injury and has since missed a game each to a quad injury and a concussion.

Hilton has been back for four straight games, however, and Colts head coach Frank Reich named the notorious Texans killer a captain prior to the matchup:

NFL Films @NFLFilms

The ONLY choice for captain against the Texans <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/TYHilton13?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TYHilton13</a> <a href="https://t.co/mC6qSFgbF7">pic.twitter.com/mC6qSFgbF7</a>

Hilton has crushed Houston in the past:

Matthew Freedman @MattFtheOracle

T.Y. Hilton: 20 games vs. Texans<br>- 170 targets<br>- 106 receptions<br>- 1,883 yards<br>- 11 touchdowns <a href="https://t.co/qCtJZq0jLV">pic.twitter.com/qCtJZq0jLV</a>

With the way the game turned out, Hilton wasn't needed much.

"You don't have to go out of your way to get me the ball," Hilton told Reich, as relayed by JJ Stankevitz of Colts.com.

The unselfish, team-first player has been through a lot just to see the field, even saying that he could only sleep 30 minutes a night and that the entire left side of his body felt numb because of the injury.

But like the rest of the Colts, he has his eyes on the prize as Indianapolis looks for a return trip to the playoffs and perhaps much more.

Taylor has the same humble, team-first mindset as Hilton even as the running back appears well on his way toward a rushing title and a potential 2,000-yard season:

NFL @NFL

"Everyone wants to win, but it's deeper than that."<br><br>For <a href="https://twitter.com/JayT23?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JayT23</a>, it's all about playing for the ones that helped him along the way. πŸ™Œ<br><br>A new episode of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> In Season: The <a href="https://twitter.com/Colts?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Colts</a> airs tonight 10pm on <a href="https://twitter.com/hbomax?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@hbomax</a> <a href="https://t.co/BL62dXSiFI">pic.twitter.com/BL62dXSiFI</a>

"I'm not playing to reach a certain mark or milestone," Taylor said in part, "besides becoming a champion. Everyone wants to win, but like I said, it's deeper than that." Taylor also noted that his success is a tribute to everyone who helped him get to where he is today.

The episode also showcased some family time for a few defensive players.

Cornerback Xavier Rhodes went to the American Girl doll store with his wife, Brittney and daughter, Journey. Rhodes appeared a little freaked out with one doll giving him a staredown, and he even closed the doll's eyes in response.

NFL Films @NFLFilms

.<a href="https://twitter.com/XavierRhodes29_?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@XavierRhodes29_</a> was getting Chucky vibes πŸ˜‚<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/Vc4UG4lwy0">pic.twitter.com/Vc4UG4lwy0</a>

Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner and family also made some Christmas cookies with the holiday soon approaching:

NFL Films @NFLFilms

Baking with the Buckners 😊<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/DeForestBuckner?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DeForestBuckner</a> <a href="https://t.co/WszBiyDwmM">pic.twitter.com/WszBiyDwmM</a>

"It's moments like these that keep me going, keep me sane," Buckner said, as Stankewitz noted.

Buckner is fighting through injury right now. He went to the blue medical tent during the Bucs game after limping off the field, and he was listed on the injury report this week with knee and foot injuries. Still, Buckner was out there for the Colts' shutout, registering a pair of tackles.

With the win, Indianapolis is now just a half-game behind the Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers and Buffalo Bills, who occupy the three AFC Wild Card spots at 7-5.

Indianapolis now has a bye week before returning to host the Pats on Dec. 18 in Lucas Oil Stadium.