|Manning vs Brady Part XIV|
As closely as these two all time greats rank among each other, it has been Tom Brady who's had the majority of the success when it comes to wins and losses. Brady leads in that category (9 -4), which to me shows you two very important things. First is that numbers do lie and can be deceiving when you factor in that the majority of Brady's victories over Manning came in the early 2000's when the Patriots won 3 out of 4 Super Bowls and had a much better TEAM than Peyton while he was with the Colts.
They first met in ironically Tom Brady's first ever official start at QB in the NFL. It was week 3 of the season after Drew Bledsoe and the Patriots playoff hopes got knocked to the sideline as it was apparent Bledsoe would not be back for quite some time. But the Pats won that game anyway. As a matter of fact they destroyed Indy by a score of 44 - 13 in a game where Tom Brady went 13/23 for 168 yards. Peyton Manning however threw 3 interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
Being that they were in the same division (AFC East) for a short time, we got to see them play multiple times a year. Three weeks later in week 6 of the NFL schedule of 2001, was another convincing win for the Patriots over the Colts by a final of 38 - 17. This time however, Brady made his presence felt by tossing 3 TD's and taking advantage of the Colts weak defense. Where we see on the other side of the ball in New England is a heck of a lot better than Indy's and mastermind Bill Belichick has everything he needed defensively to slow down or even stop Peyton Manning and his Pro Bowl offense.
Don't forget that Manning was a beast making the very best use out of guys like Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Edgerrin James and Dallas Clark. But Bill still knew what to do and is the man to blame for the pesky defensive holding and pass interference rules because the Pats defenders would keep hitting and pushing the offense all over the field, disrupting Peyton's flow and timing of each play. It gets to you mentally after a while.
The Patriots defense was stifling and remained that way for the better part of the decade. I'm not sitting here telling you Brady is no good and Peyton blows him away. Not at all. It just needs to be pointed out that the 3 Super Bowls New England won during the early 2000's were more because of their defense than anything. Still, Brady was always clutch when he had to be and I rank him very high among the all time great quarterbacks. In fact, I personally have him one spot ahead of Peyton on my all time QB list.
It wasn't until week 9 of the 2005 season when Peyton Manning and his Colts could finally claim victory over the hated rival N.E. Patriots. It took 4 years and 6 straight losses by the Brady Bunch, twice in the post season to finally get that win. After that inevitable, though at one point seemingly impossible victory over the Patriots, the Colts began to take control of that rivalry with another regular season victory in 2006 and an astonishing comeback victory over the Pats in the AFC Championship game. That season, Peyton and all his Colts teammates finally got the feeling of holding that Lombardi Trophy by winning the Super Bowl in Miami, Florida over the Bears.
Since then the two legends swapped a few games to get the head to head record we have now between Brady and Peyton in favor of Tom Terrific (9 - 4). Again, it's a team sport and it takes every man playing on that field to determine the outcome of any game. The last match up these two boys had was last season when the Patriots easily beat the Broncos, Peyton's new team. This Sunday night they meet again and quite possibly for the last time. We all expect Brady and Peyton to play at least 2-3 more years, Tom maybe a bit longer with less of a history of injuries. That is unless you go by coach Belichick's injury report, where apparently Tom Brady has been injured his entire career - nod nod, wink wink!
Like I said in the beginning of this post, it's a polarizing game because it really isn't often you get to see two of the greatest QB's of all time, actual real life football living legends, go head to head so to speak, and still watch the excellence that these two classy QB's have displayed during their careers. And even now they both remain at the top of their games, and maybe even better than ever. Just look at Manning's numbers this season alone. He's still on pace to break the single season TD record ironically held by Brady. What's even more ironic is that Brady broke Peyton's record of 49 TD passes and set the bar one step higher at an even 50. I'm sure Peyton would love to win back that honor but he's way more focused on the big picture, as is Brady and that's winning the title. That's why these guys play the game. To win it all!