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Brady-Manning Rivalry Is One Of Sport's Best

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Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have offered football fans great games over the years. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have offered football fans great games over the years. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images.

Bird and Magic. Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, these are rivalries that created great memories for sport fans around the world.

It is safe to assume that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will eventually be added to the list. Both quarterbacks not only have good statistical careers, but they also gave a good show when they faced off. Even though Manning is not with the Colts anymore, the rivalry is still much alive. These two players are leaders on two of the best teams of the league.

Brady and Manning are often mentioned among the best quarterbacks ever. Some prefer Brady, others Manning. Even thought they are often compared, these two quarterbacks did not start their career in similar fashion. Manning was pretty much destined to be a NFL quarterback, as he was the son of former New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Archie Manning and landed as the number one overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998. He took over a struggling 3-13 team and, after a 3-13 rookie season in which he threw 28 interceptions, led Indianapolis through 10 years of competitiveness, with the SuperBowl as the highest point in 2007. Manning eventually was released in 2012 and replaced, ironically, with a quarterback that most consider the next Peyton.

Brady, on the other hand, was not expected to be a future NFL superstar. Drafted 199th overall in the 2000 NFL draft, it was clear that scouts believed he didn’t have the tools to be a starter in the league, much less a star. For all 32 teams’ scouts, Brady was ‟too slow, weak and didn’t have an adequate arm.” However, as Steve Mariucci said in the Brady five, ‟what scouts didn’t evaluate was his determination; his heart.” Brady eventually found a spot on the roster, and took the place of an injured Drew Bledsoe. The rest is history; as Brady won the SuperBowl that year, and went on to win two others. He also broke Peyton Manning’s record of 49 touchdown passes in 2007 with receivers like Randy Moss, Wes Welker, who was not yet established as a reliable starter, and Donte Stallworth.

These two great players have brought us some great games. They might be friends off the field, but on the field, their competitiveness surpasses friendship. 

One of the most recent, and controversial matchup, between Manning and Brady, was in 2009 in Indianapolis. With a 34-28 Patriots’ lead with just over two minutes left in the game, Bill Belichick decided to go for it on fourth and two on his own 28. Kevin Faulk caught the ball but juggled with it a little too long, and the Patriots did not convert. What followed was one of Manning’s numerous fourth quarter comeback wins, as he took the ball in great field position, threw a touchdown pass and the Colts defeated their arch-rival 35-34. 

Another great game between these two legends was during the 2007 AFC Championship. Again at Indianapolis. New England let go a 21-3 halftime lead to eventually lose 38-34 and give Peyton Manning the chance to go to the SuperBowl. Manning didn’t waste his chance and won his first SuperBowl; his only Championship yet.

Even though Manning has had the upper hand in these spectacular matchup, Brady has also had his moments. In fact, the quarterback from Michigan has won 9 of his 13 matchups against Manning. His most recent victory came in last year, as the Pats defeated the Broncos 31-21 in week 5 of the 2012 NFL season.

Brady had the most success against Manning and the Indianapolis Colts when he was the quarterback of a team with a great defense. One of the highlights of that rivalry was the AFC Divisional game in 2004 when New England shut down Indianapolis’ record setting offense to three small points and Brady led a methodical offense to twenty points on a snowy stage in Foxborough. However, Brady didn’t only rely on his defense to beat Manning. In 2007, both quarterbacks met in a battle of the unbeatens in week 9 and Brady defeated the Colts’ quarterback 24-20. This was during New England’s perfect regular season run, in which No. 12 threw 50 touchdown passes, beating Manning’s record by one touchdown pass.

The absence of Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Alfonzo Dennard and the uncertainty of Aqib Talib’s health will make things more complicated for Brady, as the Broncos’ quarterback will have fun against the Pats’ defense. Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Eric Decker and Brady’s favorite target over the past five seasons, Wes Welker, are all reasons why Manning is having another historic season. Despite last week’s subpar performance with only one touchdown pass, Manning still could break the record of the most touchdown passes in a season, held by, you guessed it, Tom Brady.

Brady has had to adapt to his new receivers, as only the ‟Gronk” is a familiar face. Brady’s receivers have progressed throughout the season, but it will be hard to match Manning’s high cylinder offense. However, most football fans would agree that it is dangerous to doubt Brady and Belichick, even more when they get out of a loss like they did this past Monday. The ‟hoodie” always finds a way to surprise opponents when football fans expect it the least. This game is a statement game for the Pats, who will want to send the message that they are still one of the NFL’s best team. The game is in Foxborough, so that is an advantage for Brady and Co.

The Brady-Manning rivalry is not only a good football rivalry, but a great sports rivalry. This Sunday’s game will probably be a great game again and most people watching will either root for Brady or Manning, but as football fans, appreciate Chapter XIV of this great rivalry. We might never see one like this one ever again.