Their first game was back on September 30, 2001, in New England. Tom Brady was making his first start for the Patriots against the Indianapolis Colts, led by one Peyton Manning. It ended up being 44-13 blowout victory for the Pats but it marked the first of a rivalry that would define the careers of these quarterbacks. Now almost 15 years later, we have come to what could potential be the final chapter of the Brady-Manning rivalry as the New England Patriots travel to Mile High Stadium to play the Denver Broncos.
Ah, the old classic duel between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Since their first official match up back in 2001, people have been counting tabs on who has been beaten who. At first glance, everybody would see that the regular season match up has been a one-sided affair (Brady 11 wins vs. Peyton’s 5 wins). But in the playoffs, it’s an even 2-2. However in the AFC Championship Game, Peyton Manning has bested Tom Brady 2-1, including their most recent meeting back in the 2013/14 season (Broncos won 26-16).
It’s been a hot topic of debate of who the better quarterback was between over the years since 2001. But in 2015, it was easy to see which of the two had the better year (Brady: 4,770 yards, 36 TDs, 7 INTs, QB rating 102.2 while Manning: 2,249 yards, 9 TDs, 17 INTs, QB rating of 67.9). However in football, one man cannot carry an entire team by themselves and this is not just Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. It’s the New England Patriots vs. the Denver Broncos and while we’re on the historical aspect of Brady-Manning, let’s look at Patriots-Broncos.
Although many New England fans will be offended by this, the fact of the matter is that the Broncos have had the Patriots’ number while playing at Mile High Stadium. During the Brady-Belichick Era, the Patriots are 2-6 playing in the Mile High Stadium, including going 0-2 in the playoffs. Even this year, the Patriots had already played the Broncos in a Week 12 matchup, only to end up losing in overtime 30-24.
Also as much as people (mostly Pats fans) want to try to discredit or say that the Broncos’ offense will have a hard time trying to score (19th overall with 22.2 ppg) against a stout Patriots defense (10th in scoring defense, allowing 19.7 ppg & 9th in overall defense, allowing 339.4 ypg), they need to look at the flipside of the coin and wonder how Tom Brady and the offense will do against the Broncos defense.
This year, the Broncos were arguably a top 5 defense in the NFL. They held opponents to 18.5 ppg (4th overall), allowed 283.1 ypg (1st overall), and had the most sack (52.0 sacks). Not to mention that they are the number one passing defense in the NFL, allowing 199.6 ypg in the air. This definitely poses a problem for the Patriots since their offense predicates more for a spread offense (5th overall passing attack with 286.7) and has little to no run game (30th overall with 87.8 ypg) to keep the Denver defense honest.
Already both sides are crowing at one another, giving each side bulletin board material. But the two players that really understand the magnitude of this game are those who are going under center. It’s not just a trip to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl that’s on the line, it’s the legacy of Brady and Manning.
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