MIAMI — Peyton Manning spent the whole season building toward a Super Bowl crown, a win that certainly would put him among the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
And then he threw it all away.
Blocked onto his rear, Manning could only watch as Tracy Porter returned an interception for a clinching, 74-yard touchdown in the final minutes Sunday that gave New Orleans a 31-17 victory over Indianapolis.
"We probably never got into a great rhythm. We were certainly worse in lapses in our final possession," Manning said.
All week, this was the story in Miami: Could Manning, a New Orleans boy through and through, deny the Saints in a game they desperately wanted to win for their city?
Turned out he helped his hometown team win its first Super Bowl — only not in the way he imagined.
Dad Archie, the longtime star Saints quarterback, got caught smack in the middle.
"I was pulling for the Colts. I'm not quite over that, but I'm happy for New Orleans," he said. "I don't know if I'm going to celebrate or not. Maybe later, when the city does, but I'm not in a celebrating mood."
As for the interception, Porter attributed it to "great film study."
"We knew that on third and short they stack, and they like the outside release for the slant. It was great film study by me, a great jump and a great play," said Porter, a second-year player out of Indiana, with its Bloomington campus about 55 miles from Indianapolis.
Even after Porter's pick, Manning tried to rally the Colts. He moved them near the Saints' goal line. But a final pass to Reggie Wayne, the intended receiver on the Porter interception, fell incomplete.
Manning wound up 31-of-45 for 333 yards and one touchdown. He finished one short of the Super Bowl record for completions set by Tom Brady and tied Sunday by Drew Brees.