| Indianapolis Star
Joe Burrow injured, Taysom Hill proves he can play QB
SportsPulse: Week 11 early games were filled with surprises. From Joe Burrow’s season-ending injury, to the Saints dominant performance, to the Titans overtime defeat of the Ravens.
INDIANAPOLIS — Philip Rivers is earning every penny of his paychecks in the month of November.
Brought in to Indianapolis to give the Colts the quarterback play they needed to become a playoff contender again, Rivers has come up big in every game but one during a brutal November stretch.
None bigger than the game he played Sunday in a 34-31 overtime win over the Green Bay Packers, a critical win that keeps Indianapolis in lockstep with the Tennessee Titans for the AFC South crown and sets up another crucial showdown against the Titans next week.
Rivers had to know he was going to have to come up big in this one.
As good as the Colts defense has been this season, Rodgers might have been playing even better. Indianapolis (7-3) knew the Packers were going to put up points.
Rivers had to be able to match him.
Unlike last season, when the Colts were able to overpower teams on the ground and keep elite quarterbacks on the sideline, Indianapolis hasn’t been able to count on that kind of overpowering attack, although they did get 82 yards from rookie running back Jonathan Taylor in the second half.
But the Colts still needed their quarterback to make plays, and Rivers responded time after time, completing 24 of 36 passes for 288 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, and brought Indianapolis back from two 14-point deficits.
There was a 13-yard throw to T.Y. Hilton on a third-and-12 early, a 20-yard completion to Zach Pascal with the pocket breaking down, a gorgeous throw to T.Y. Hilton on a fade with the pocket breaking down, a beautiful touchdown pass to Trey Burton over the middle.
Up until Sunday, the book on Rivers this season had been simple. When a team repeatedly put him under pressure, he could be forced to make mistakes.
Not this time.
Green Bay’s pass rush only sacked Rivers once and hit him five times, but behind a big day from Za’Darius Smith and rushing against backups Le’Raven Clark and Chaz Green at right tackle for the Colts, the Packers beat up Rivers, knocking him out of the game with an injury to his leg at one point.
Except that this time, the mistakes never came.
Rivers threw just one interception, a ball that was batted at the line and floated backwards into the hands of Packers linebacker Christian Kirksey, and there were a few balls that ended up in jeopardy.
But Rivers was also handed a deficit of 14 points twice, and instead of the mistakes that came early in the season while trailing against Jacksonville and Cleveland, Rivers helped pull the Colts back time and time again.
Rivers even made the plays he needed to make on the Colts’ final drive, even though a barrage of flags by the referees ruined the Indianapolis attempt to salt the game away.
Facing a fourth-and-3 from the Packers’ 35-yard line with the game on the line, Indianapolis dialed up a pass, and Rivers delivered a strike to Nyheim Hines on the slant. The play seemed like the dagger … before a barrage of seven flags in 10 snaps that stopped the clock repeatedly, giving Green Bay plenty of time for Rodgers to drive down and tie the game with a two-minute drill.
Rookie Colts free safety Julian Blackmon made the play in overtime
But it was Rivers who got Indianapolis there.
Doing exactly what the Colts signed him to do this offseason.