Colts’ notebook: Big day for Marlon Mack, T.Y. Hilton inspired by Tyler Beikes

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 16: Marlon Mack #25 of the Indianapolis Colts runs the ball in the game against the Dallas Cowboys in the second quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 16, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Marlon Mack saw it early. You know, the possibility of a big day against one of the NFL’s stingiest run defenses.

On the Indianapolis Colts’ third offensive play, Mack took a handoff from Andrew Luck around the right side of the line, shrugged off a tackle attempt by cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and rambled for a 19-yard gain to the Dallas 14.

Then a 6-yard run. And a 7-yarder. And, after no gain, a 1-yard touchown.

“When I saw those holes, I was like, ‘Yeah, it might be a good day,’’’ Mack said after the Colts’ dominant 23-0 win over the Cowboys Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. “Holes like that don’t come often and when the guys are blocking like that in front of you, you just, ‘Oh yeah, these big guys are moving them so step up your game.’’’

Step up Mack did.

Facing a Dallas run defense that ranked No. 3 in yards per game allowed (86.8) and No. 2 in yards per attempt (3.6), the Colts’ second-year back went off. Mack set career bests with 27 attempts and 139 yards. The Colts’ 178 total was the most allowed by the Cowboys this season.

The breakout game was needed, and overdue. In five games since posting consecutive 200-plus yard games at Oakland and against Buffalo, the Colts had averaged just 78.4 yards per game and 3.4 yards per attempt.

“We’ve really been wanting to get the run game going and this was a difficult week to do that because they led the league in yards per attempt,’’ Reich said. “But guys up front played great football. I mean they played physically-bonded football.’’

That coincided with the return of center Ryan Kelly, who missed the previous three games with a knee injury. Also, Joe Haeg replaced injured Mark Glowinski at right guard.

“Those guys blocked their tails off today and just helped me,’’ Mack said of his offensive line. “When you play a defense like that, you want to prove people wrong, that you can go out there and run the ball.’’

It marked Mack’s third 100-yard outing of the season – and for his career. He’s the first Colt since Joseph Addai in 2007 to notch three such games in a season.

Hilton effective

It wasn’t until T.Y. Hilton went through pre-game warm-ups that the Colts realized they would have their playmaking wideout. He missed the entire week of practice after suffering an injury to his right ankle last week at Houston.

“It was truly a game-time decision,’’ Reich said, “and it was about trusting T.Y. We know he’s tough and we know he was going to try to do everything he could do to go.’’

Hilton finished with 5 catches and 85 yards. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark (1,071) for the fifth time in his seven-year career.

Hilton insisted he was uncertain about playing against Dallas, until he once again drew motivation from Tyler Beikes. Beikes is a 13-year old with a heart condition from Arizona who has been traveling to Indy for treatment.

What tipped the scales?

“When I saw Tyler today coming out,’’ Hilton said. “He’s a kid that’s been dealing with some stuff for a long time and he’s a guy I’ve gotten close with. I saw him when I went out there and he’s dealing with something more than what I’m dealing with, so once I saw him, that was the sign that I needed to go.

“He means a lot. Just looking at him and seeing his face, you would never know that he was dealing with something. All training camp he’s been there and he was like, ‘T.Y., T.Y., T.Y.’ . . . and I always embrace him. I’ve spent a lot of time with him and once I saw him talk to his father, he told me that today was going to be his last game here.

“It just meant a lot to me to just go out there and play for him.’’

Rarity for Luck

A byproduct of the Colts being so effective with their running game was not being so Luck-reliant. He finished 16-of-27 for 192 with no touchdowns and no interceptions.

And it’s the no touchdowns/interceptions stats that are interesting.

The last time the Colts won a game without Luck throwing an interception: Dec. 1, 2013 at Tennessee, a 22-14 decision.

Indy is 6-4 when he fails to throw a TD. More telling, it’s 28-5 when he doesn’t suffer an interception.

Hunt: been there before

In an oddity, defensive lineman Margus Hunt has intimate knowledge of the last two shutouts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Of course, he was part of Sunday’s 23-0 win over Dallas. The previous shutout by the Colts was a 27-0 number at the expense of Cincinnati in 2014.

Hunt was with the Bengals at the time.

“I remember it vividly,’’ he said.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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