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|Colts Ride Manning to Beat Jets for AFC Title
|INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Four-time MVP Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes and the Indianapolis Colts rallied from an 11-point, first-half deficit to beat the New York Jets 30-17 in the AFC championship game.
The 15-and-2 Colts are now headed back to Miami for the second time in four years and their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history.
Manning finished 26 of 39 for 377 yards. He became the first player in league history with seven 300-yard postseason games. That broke a tie with Kurt Warner and Joe Montana.
After falling behind late in the first half, Manning finally responded. He took the Colts 80 yards in four plays, hooking three straight times with rookie Austin Collie including the 16-yard TD pass that made it 17-13 with 1:13 to go in the half.
Manning was just getting started.
The next time he got the ball, he took the Colts 57 yards in eight plays, connecting with Pierre Garcon in the back corner of the end zone to make it 20-17 with 8:03 left in the third quarter.
He sealed it midway through the fourth when Dallas Clark caught a 15-yard TD pass to make it 27-17.
The Jets' magical run ended with their first road loss in six games.
New York built a 17-6 lead and took advantage of trick plays. But rookie Mark Sanchez and the Jets were shut out in the second half. The Jets finished a magical season under rookie coach Rex Ryan with an 11-and-8 record. The Colts torched Ryan's top-ranked defense for 461 yards, 360 passing and 101 on the ground.
After the game, Ryan was philosophical about the loss.
"With Peyton Manning, if you don't disrupt his rhythm, he's going to kill you," Ryan said. "And we didn't disrupt him enough."
Colts coach Jim Caldwell became only the fifth rookie coach to reach the Super Bowl. Only two others, San Francisco's George Seifert and Don McCafferty, of the Baltimore Colts, have won it.
The Colts will play New Orleans NFC championship in Super Bowl 44 on February 7 in Miami.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)