Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are considered two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, and some of the most exciting games were when they were facing off. The two faced off 17 times before Manning decided to hang up the cleats after 18 NFL seasons. Brady led the all-time series 11-6, but the rivalry was deeper than that. Let’s take a closer look at the battles between the two guys.
Brady and Manning’s start in the NFL couldn’t have been more different. Manning was selected first overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1998 draft, and many believed he could be an elite quarterback coming out of college. Brady was selected with the 199th overall pick in the 2000 draft and when he was selected, it just looked like another long shot who might be out of the league in a few years.
The first time these two teams faced off was September 30th, 2001, and it was the sixth round pick who got the better of the matchup. Neither quarterback played all that well, but Manning’s three interceptions were too much to overcome as the Patriots won 44-13.
The next game to highlight was the 2003-04 AFC Championship Game. Once again it was Manning’s interceptions that cost his team. Manning finished the game throwing only one touchdown and four interceptions. The Patriots won 24-14 and advanced to the Super Bowl.
The two teams faced off again in the 2004-05 divisional round and neither quarterback was all that impressive, but it was again Brady getting the upper hand winning 20-3.
During 2006, it was the year of Manning who finally got the best of Brady when it mattered most. During the regular season, it was Brady throwing four interceptions, and the Colts coming out with the win.
In the conference title game, Manning threw for 349 yards and a touchdown. It was a tight, high-scoring game, with the Colts coming out 38-34 victory.
The 2006-07 AFC Championship Game was the last time these two teams would face off in the postseason while Manning was still with the Colts. In the 2013-14 conference championship, it was the Broncos and the Patriots facing off and one of Manning’s better showings in the playoffs. He threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns, which led to a 26-16 victory.
The last time these two teams faced off was in the 2015-16 AFC Championship Game, and it was an epic battle. Brady was throwing the ball a lot, while the Broncos focused on the running game more. In the end, Brady threw two interceptions, and that was the difference.
Peyton Manning only threw for 176 yards, but he found the end zone twice and didn’t throw any picks. The Broncos came out ahead, and Manning would win Super Bowl 50 a couple of weeks later.
As much as these two were rivals on the field, this never was one filled with hate or a lot of trash talk, These are both guys who have respected the game and each other through the heated rivalry.
Hopefully going forward there will be this type of quarterback rivalry again, but it’s probably going to take a while before we see something as special as Brady and Manning.