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NFL: Colts supporting cast falls short in Super Bowl

MIAMI — Peyton Manning's receivers helped the Colts reach the Super Bowl.

Then they dropped the ball.

Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie couldn't catch third-down passes to keep drives going. Hank Baskett made a mistake on special teams, failing to bring in New Orleans' onside kick to open the second half.

Manning tried to find his favorite receiver on a crucial drive, and even that didn't work out. Tracy Porter jumped in front of Reggie Wayne and returned an interception 74 yards for the game-sealing TD.

The result: New Orleans 31, Indy 17.

Manning did what he could Sunday, repeatedly driving the Colts down the field and forcing the Saints to gamble. But unlike previous games this season, his supporting cast didn't come through. It was the first time all season that the Colts' starters finished a game and lost.

Yes, Garcon had an early TD reception, but he dropped a big third-down pass in the second quarter when New Orleans kept the ball for 26 of 32 plays. And when Collie couldn't haul in another third-down pass early in the fourth quarter, it forced the Colts to send 42-year-old kicker Matt Stover in to attempt a 51-yard field goal that went wide left. Stover's miss set up New Orleans' go-ahead TD drive.

Manning can shoulder some of the blame also. Porter looked as if he was the intended receiver on his interception return that sealed the Colts' fate.

But it wasn't just the offensive role players who struggled for Indy.

Colts defenders missed several tackles, something they had not done frequently all season.

The combination prevented Manning from working yet another fourth-quarter comeback.