Loss leaves quests unfulfilled for Colts

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MIAMI --- Reggie Wayne stared right through all those reporters.


He wasn't bothered by the questions Sunday night. He just couldn't believe he and the Colts lost to his hometown New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl.

Moments after Indianapolis came up one win short of a championship, the Pro Bowl receiver downplayed the disappointment by focusing on next season.

"I'd rather win than lose, but I think once we get this feeling out of the way, we'll be determined to come back and get another shot at it," Wayne said.

Who could blame him for being upset? He'll hear about this loss for years.

It won't be any easier for other Colts, who will constantly be reminded of blowing a 10-point lead in the Super Bowl and failing to live up to expectations after a near-perfect regular season.

"I felt like we played well this postseason," Peyton Manning said. "We played well in our first playoff game, played well two weeks ago and, at times, made some plays against the Saints. We just didn't play well enough to win."

The Colts compiled several impressive accomplishments this season:

- They broke the NFL record for consecutive regular-season wins (23).

- They set the league mark for wins in a decade (115).

- They extended their own NFL mark of consecutive 12-win seasons to seven.

- They completed seven fourth-quarter comebacks, also a league record.

- Manning won his fourth MVP award, breaking a tie with Brett Favre for the most ever.

But they could have done so much more.

Late in December, the Colts were 14-0 and had a shot to join the 2007 New England Patriots as the only teams to go 16-0 in a regular season.

But Indianapolis traded that chance for an opportunity to rest its starters down the stretch, figuring that was the best way to chase a second Super Bowl title in four years.

The Colts finished 14-2 in the regular season and 16-3 overall. Their 31-17 loss Sunday to underdog New Orleans left both quests unfulfilled.

Indianapolis does have one big move to make -- re-signing Manning, whose contract expires after next season. Team owner Jim Irsay is prepared to make Manning the highest-paid quarterback in league history again.

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