Unfamiliar names get Colts to Super Bowl

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Dan Klecko, Jeff Saturday, Joseph Addai, Marlin Jackson. Who are these guys? They’re the guys who helped Peyton Manning put Indianapolis in the Super Bowl for the first time.

With Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne held in check by New England, Manning and the Colts used some Belichick-esque creativity – and a little blind luck – to finally get past their nemesis with a 38-34 victory in the AFC championship game Sunday night.

They’ll face Chicago in two weeks in Miami, and as much as people wanted to make previous postseason failures about Manning, Sunday’s game demonstrated it takes more than an MVP quarterback to win.

“It just shows that this ship didn’t sink or sail with one guy,” Saturday said. “Every guy has to show up and do their job.”

Certainly, it was not all by design, but it sure was effective.

Indianapolis had a backup defensive tackle (Klecko) score one touchdown, a Pro Bowl center (Saturday) score another and even Manning scored on a rare quarterback sneak that forced people to take a second look at the numbers.

Addai, a running back who got lost in the shuffle of a strong rookie class, broke through to give Indy the only lead it needed with 1 minute left in the game and Jackson sealed it by picking off Tom Brady on the final series.

No, it didn’t necessarily follow the plan offensive coordinator Tom Moore dreamed up when he designed this offense around a two-time MVP quarterback and two Pro Bowl receivers. But so what?

The Colts won their biggest home game of the Indianapolis era by using everything at their disposal, including good fortune.

Saturday scored by jumping on a fumble near the goal line early in the fourth quarter and tied the score at 28, setting up one of the most exciting finishes in conference championship game history. The teams combined for three field goals and a touchdown in the final 13:24, a pace that played to the Colts’ strengths.

“Things are sometimes unexplainable,” Saturday said. “I was blocking my guy to the left, and he (Dominic Rhodes) spins back and the ball is loose. It hit me in the foot and I just laid down and got it.”

It was typical of a game that had as many twists and turns as a street race.

The Patriots scored two unconventional touchdowns, too. Left guard Logan Mankins produced the first score much the way Saturday did, recovering Laurence Maroney’s fumble in the end zone. Cornerback Asante Samuel’s interception and 39-yard return made it 21-3 with 9:25 left in the half.

No team had come back from a greater deficit in championship game history, but then those games didn’t involve the Colts’ makeshift stars.

Trailing 21-6 at the start of the second half, Manning did what he could by design. Then he resorted to improvisation.

Manning called his own number on third-and-goal from the 1 and barely shoved his way across the goal-line for his third rushing TD in 12 career playoff games.

On a goal-line play the next series, Manning went to Klecko, a former Patriots defensive lineman who had lined up at fullback. He caught a swing pass and lumbered into the end zone before a New England defender could get a hand on him.

Klecko has now caught two passes this season – both for touchdowns – and this one led to the more conventional Manning-to-Harrison 2-point conversion that tied it at 21.

“I heard someone comment that he’s some sort of fat guy,” said Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, also a former Patriot. “But he just catches touchdowns, so that’s great.”

Still trailing, 28-21, early in fourth quarter, Saturday, a Pro Bowl center, found the gift at his feet to tie it at 28, and the Colts last two first-round picks – Addai and Jackson – wrapped up the trip to Miami.

“You just go out and do what you’re told,” Klecko said before getting a hug from team owner Jim Irsay. “They came to my side and I was ready. I’m not trying to sound like a jerk, but yeah, obviously this one is sweeter for the obvious reasons.”

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