INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — This is perfect for the Indianapolis Colts: They have Peyton Manning and they're back in the Super Bowl.
The four-time MVP threw three touchdown passes and the Colts rallied from an 11-point, first-half deficit to beat the New York Jets 30-17 Sunday in the AFC championship game.
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"I thought we just kept our mouths shut and went to work this week," Manning said.
The big-talking Jets, and their equally big-talking coach, Rex Ryan, were all the incentive Indy needed Sunday.
A month ago, when the New Yorkers last came to town, Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell pulled his starters in the third quarter and gave up a chance at a perfect season to focus on a Super Bowl run. Fans booed throughout the fourth quarter and when the Colts left the field, and some spent the past month complaining publicly.
That's over now.
Manning stayed on the field for every Colts play and instead of blowing a lead, the Colts rallied behind their leader.
This time, fans counted down the final seconds while streamers and confetti hung in the air, flash bulbs popped incessantly and when the official announcement was made, roars cascaded from the rafters.
"We talked about being patient against these guys," Manning said. "We knew it would be a four-quarter game."
The Colts will face New Orleans, which made its first Super Bowl after a 31-28 overtime win over Minnesota, in two weeks. Manning will play in the same venue where he beat Chicago in the rain and won the Super Bowl MVP award three years ago. Manning will be going against Saints quarterback Drew Brees, a family friend.
Just as special was having the Colts career rushing leader, Edgerrin James, present the team with the Lamar Hunt Trophy, which goes to the AFC champs. He never made it to the Super Bowl with the Colts, though team owner Jim Irsay gave James a ring when the Colts beat the Bears.
Players savored every precious moment. Receiver Pierre Garcon, who had 11 catches for 153 yards, both career-highs, and the go-ahead score raised a Haitian flag to honor his family and friends who still live there. Garcon and others remained on the field long after the official celebration, mingling family, friends and fans as the Colts redeemed themselves for this season's first loss.
"We've been here before, we had seven comeback wins this year. I think the guys were a little rattled at first, I think we took their best shot, but we came back," linebacker Gary Brackett said. "I think we did a great job of being the hunters and imposing our will today."
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.
The Jets' magical run ended with their first road loss in six games.
New York (11-8) built a 17-6 lead and took advantage of trick plays. But the Jets lost running back Shonn Greene with a rib injury in the second half, and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez was shut out over the final two quarters.
"Today wasn't our day. There's no question," said Ryan, who declared his Jets the Super Bowl favorites before the playoffs. "You have to give credit to the Colts. Obviously they're the cream of the crop right now."
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.