Jacoby Brissett's big game gives Colts some hope -- and first win of season

INDIANAPOLIS -- Receiver T.Y. Hilton guaranteed that the Indianapolis Colts wouldn't open the season 0-3 for the first time in six years.

Saying it is one thing. Actually doing it is another when it comes to the Colts.

With the possibility of sinking to their lowest point since their dreadful 2-14 season in 2011, the Colts backed Hilton up Sunday by jumping to a 21-point lead before holding on for a 31-28 victory over the Cleveland Browns. This is the fourth straight season that Indianapolis has avoided falling to 0-3.

"It would have sucked [to be 0-3]," Colts running back Frank Gore said. "It was a good win, good team win. Wasn't pretty, but we got the 'W.'"

The victory was necessary to calm the nerves of a franchise that found a way to lose in the first two weeks of the season.

The calmness started with quarterback Jacoby Brissett with an assist from a defense that had three interceptions.

Brissett showed he was capable of leading the Colts in his first start last week against the Arizona Cardinals. It was just a matter of continuing to learn as much of the offense as he could and work on his continuity with his skill-position players during the week at practice.

"Another week, you get a lot more comfortable, you get to learn from the mistakes that you make and you get to do it again and try to correct a lot of those things," Brissett said. "It was just a lot more at ease I would say. It is definitely something that I'm still getting used to and still learning how to differentiate things that we go through for pregame and stuff like that, but I definitely felt a lot more comfortable."

There's been a different level of confidence out of the Colts' offense since coach Chuck Pagano made Brissett the starter prior to Week 2. It's clear that Brissett has command of the offense, and he showed a nice touch on his passes while finishing 17-of-24 for 259 yards and a touchdown.

"He did a good job in managing things," Pagano said. "They gave us a lot, a bunch of different looks. I thought he managed things well, protected the ball and he made big plays. The receivers made big plays for him. He's growing, he'll continue to grow, continue to get better. We'll continue to add as much as we can add and not overdo it to give him some more tools in his toolbox."

His ability to improvise and use his feet was on display early in the game. After two series in which the Colts had 23 yards of total offense to go with two false penalties and a sack of 9 yards, Brissett led them on a 10-play, 70-yard drive. He scored on a 5-yard designed run.

Brissett energized the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd when he put a spin move on a Cleveland defender and then went in untouched for a 7-yard TD run on Indianapolis' next series. Brissett is the first Colts quarterback to have two rushing touchdowns in a game since Andrew Luck did it twice during his rookie season in 2012.

"I knew he could move, but he showed some good moves out there," Hilton said. "I caught a tail end [of the spin move] on the Jumbotron and I was like, 'Yea he has some legs.' He has some juice."

What the Colts needed, though, was a way to get their passing attack going, which meant finding a way to make Hilton, who had only 106 yards receiving through the first two weeks, a bigger part of the offense.

Hilton was back to his old ways of exploiting defenses, as he had seven receptions for 153 yards, which included a 61-yard touchdown reception.

Brissett's performance against the Browns has ramifications beyond Sunday's win. He showed that the offense won't fall apart while Luck remains out of the lineup and works his way back from right shoulder surgery. ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen reported Sunday that Luck is expected to begin practicing as early as this week. Luck has not practiced or played in a game since Week 17 of last season.

Luck is on his way back and Brissett has found his comfort zone in the offense -- two things that should make the Colts happy.

"We're always going to compete no matter what the circumstance is," Hilton said. "At the end of the day, whoever is back there is going to put us in a great situation to win. We look forward whenever [Luck] comes back. Jacoby is holding it down and we feel great."