Colts tip Dolphins to secure No. 3 seed

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts wanted to play their regular-season finale like it was a playoff game Sunday.

They looked ready for the postseason.

Manning threw two touchdowns, ran for another and watched his maligned defense limit Miami to five field goals before giving up a late touchdown, and the Colts held on for a 27-22 victory.

Indianapolis (12-4) will now host a wild-card game next week after blowing a chance to earn either of the AFC’s top two seeds by losing four times in the previous six weeks. The Colts still completed their first perfect season at home since 1958 when the Baltimore Colts won the NFL championship.

Miami (6-10), which was 5-0 against Manning in Indianapolis, closed the season with three straight losses.

Cleo Lemon was solid in his NFL starting debut, finishing 18-of-36 for 210 yards. But a poor decision late in the first half was intercepted and he produced only one touchdown in six trips inside the Colts 25.

Instead, the Dolphins settled for field goals from Olindo Mare, one short of his career-high.

Against a depleted Miami secondary, Manning was his usually efficient self. He completed 22-of-37 for 282 yards – sometimes relying on an unusual supporting cast.

His first touchdown pass, the 274th of his career, was a 2-yarder to defensive tackle Dan Klecko. That broke a tie with Joe Montana for seventh on the career TD list and gave Indy a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter. It was also Klecko’s first career touchdown reception.

Manning’s 36-yard pass to Aaron Moorehead in the closing seconds of the first half set up an 11-yard scoring run by the two-time MVP that made it 14-6, and Cato June’s interception with 6 seconds left allowed Adam Vinatieri to kick a 46-yard field goal for a 17-6 lead.

The teams traded field goals on their opening second-half possessions, and Mare hit two more field goals to get Miami within 20-15 with 12:38 left in the game.

This time, Manning responded like a master.

He hit Reggie Wayne for 17 yards on the left sideline, and Dallas Clark followed that with an acrobatic one-handed diving catch down the middle of the field for 30 yards. Manning went back to the left, hitting Wayne for 11 yards, before hooking up with Marvin Harrison on a 27-yard touchdown down the right sideline to make it 27-15 with 10:07 to go.

Miami closed to 27-22 after Jason Taylor recovered Joseph Addai’s fumble and Lemon threw a 6-yard TD pass to Randy McMichael with 3:11 left.

But the Dolphins last chance ended when Lemon’s desperation pass was thrown out of the end zone and into the stand.

Harrison caught five passes for 74 yards, five short of breaking Jerry Rice’s career record for most 100-reception season. Each has four.

Ronnie Brown rushed 21 times for 115 yards, topping the 1,000-yard mark late in the third quarter.

AP

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