This Sunday afternoon, Gillette Stadium will be the host as the best quarterback rivalry of the past decade sparks back up. Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady takes place for the 13th time in 12 years but will the same hatred, admiration, and awe surround this game as the past?
As fans we have only ever known Peyton as an Indianapolis Colt, throwing to Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark time after time in big-time games. Countless battles in the snow, on the turf, and through the air are what have built the Brady vs. Manning rivalry as a cornerstone in the NFL. The addition of Bronco Orange to Peyton’s uniform is enough to make fans take a step back though.
As Peyton returns from a season sidelined from injury and with a new team, it seems as though Peyton has taken on a new identity. Manning has new targets, no longer plays in a dome, and calls the AFC West home. Brady hasn’t moved an inch and is right where he started as the face of the Patriots organization under Bill Belichick. As they both head in separate situations, have Peyton and Tom grown apart?
In my mind, there is just too much history and personal pride for the two to grow apart. Whenever the AFC’s elite matched-up conference superiority was on the line. Brady clearly got the best of Manning as the rivalry grew, after winning the first 6 meetings against Manning’s Colts. Recently Manning has had his moments against the Patriots as well. In the past 6 meetings, Manning has been victorious in 4, including an AFC Championship win that still haunts the Patriots today. Playoff wins are where the greats establish themselves and all-time Brady is 2-1 against Manning in the playoffs. If fans were to have it their way the two will meet again this January.
The league dominance each quarterback has exhibited is simply jaw dropping. Of the last 11 Super Bowls, Brady or Manning have represented the AFC 7 times. It has just become habit to see the two individuals on the biggest stage as they carry their teams with the Lombardi Trophy on the line.
The individual stats and awards come easy for the two, but the both would tell you the Super Bowls are what matter the most. Manning has his 4 MVPs against Brady’s 2 MVPs but in the minds of many, Brady has what matters most in his 3 Super Bowl victories opposed to Manning’s lone victory. Both will have their shot at more championships before their careers are over, but they may have to go through each other.
This Sunday I expect the rivalry to maintain its passion and hunger for success. The game’s most elite competitors will leave it all on the field and the fans should soak in the winding days of one of the greatest quarterback rivalries of all time.