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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Colts 30 Jets 17: Colts AFC Champions, wait for Saints, Vikings

Colts 30 Jets 17. The Indianapolis Colts (15-2) are AFC Champions, having beat the New York Jets and now wait for the winner of the Saints - Vikings game as their challengers in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami.

The way the Colts earned their second trip to the Super Bowl in three years was with a strong defense to go with their quick-strike offense, as they marched back from 11 points down in the first half of the game. The Colts held the NY Jets , the NFL rushing leader, to an average of under three yards per carry.

But it was a story of Quarterback Peyton Manning.

After solving the riddle of the Jets overload blitz by using "three-and-one formations" and taking advantage of key Jets defensive losses, the Colts' Manning threw for 377 yards, and was 26 for 39 and three touchdowns for a passer rating of 123.55. The key was his rookie receivers: Pierre Garcon and Austin Colley. They combined for 274 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

As successful as the Colts were, it didn't start out well. The NY Jets came out to a 17-6 lead with a mix of power running and play-action passing. Mark Sanchez didn't look like the rookie he was here at the 2009 NFL Draft:

His success is a tribute not just to his New York Jets coaches, but to former-USC Coach Pete Carroll and his staff where Sanchez was signal-caller in college. Sanchez was well-prepared for the systems and speed of the NFL. Sanchez' advance to the AFC Championship game as a rookie will not be the rare happening it has been in the past.

But that will come in the future. Today is the Colts day. More on how the Colts did it later.

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