Manly came to AAMI Park without their captain, five-eighth and star lock and should have walked out with the two points.
Leading 19-10 with nine minutes left, the Sea Eagles surrendered two tries before eventually going down to arch rivals Melbourne 22-19 in front of 13, 273 fans.
Despite missing key personnel the visitors looked the better side for much of the match but may have missed the cooler, more experienced heads of Jamie Lyon, Kieran Foran and Glenn Stewart in the dying moments.
Just one successful conversion from five attempts had Manly supporters praying for the boot of their skipper who was left watching 10,000 kilometers away.
Added to this was the fact the usually resolute Sea Eagles defence was found wanting at crucial moments, surrendering 2,232 metres on the night – significantly higher than its season average of 1,397.
Although despite losing a game it had well within its grasp, Manly coach Geoff Toovey was satisfied with much of his side's performance on the night.
"I thought we were the better side tonight – the boys for 75 minutes of the game deserved the win," said Toovey.
"I thought the boys who stepped into those roles did a good job, we were obviously just not good enough tonight.
"It is a valuable lesson for us all and we will have to move forward."
Stand-in captain Brett Stewart scored a try on the night but managed just 29 metres and for the first time in eight matches did not record a try assist.
The fullback admitted the visitors had no answer for the wave of Storm momentum in the final 10 minutes.
"They had the momentum in the last 10 minutes and we just could not find our front end like we had for majority of the game," said Stewart.
"If we don't play for 80 minutes against a team like that we can lose the game like we did."
Manly will have a long break to rue their missed chance until they host Newcastle at Brookvale Oval next round on Monday night football.