By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s happening. Again. Though this time, things are without a doubt quite different.READ MORE: Body Of Missing Five-Year-Old Elijah Lewis Believed To Be Found In Abington
Tom Brady. Peyton Manning.
The final showdown?
The way it looks now, that certainly seems to be the case. While Brady will enter Sunday’s AFC Championship Game playing some of the best football of his Hall of Fame career, Manning enters as a shell of his former self.
Brady led the NFL in passing touchdowns this season with 36, and he’s coming off a 302-yard, two-touchdown, one rushing touchdown performance in the divisional round. Manning, on the other hand, threw nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions, one shy of the NFL lead despite playing in just 10 games. Publicly, he lost his job midseason to Brock Osweiler due to injury, but at least from afar it was a decision that looked to be performance-related more than anything.
Yet Manning entered in the second half of Denver’s Week 17 game to
save the day hand the football to C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman while going 5-for-9 passing. That was enough to reclaim the starter’s role, despite Osweiler’s 10 touchdowns and six interceptions on the year. And Manning was rather mediocre in his playoff start on Sunday, goint 21-for-37 for 222 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
So while the matchup has lost some of its luster from the days when it was Most Prolific Passer Of All Time vs. Greatest Quarterback Of All Time, it is nevertheless a major storyline when the two greatest quarterbacks of their generation face each other with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, and that’s even more true when it looks like it very well could be the final chapter.
So before that story gets written, here is a trip down memory lane from all of the meetings between Brady and Manning since it all began back in 2001.
(Editor’s note: We’ve compiled this list before previous matchups, with this being the most up-to-date version.)
1. 2001, Week 3: Patriots 44, Colts 13
Peyton’s final game at Foxboro Stadium was a real doozy, as he threw three interceptions in a blowout New England victory. Brady kept things simple in his first NFL start, going 13-for-23 for 168 yards.
“You envision the things that are going to happen in a game, all the possibilities,” Brady said after the win. “Never did I think it would be the runaway victory that it was.”
2. 2001, Week 6: Patriots 38, Colts 17
It was a clean sweep for Brady and the Patriots over the Colts in 2001. This game went down in history not for what Brady or Manning did, but what David Patten did. The wide receiver scored a rushing and receiving touchdown, and he also threw for one, becoming the first player since Walter Peyton to do that. Brady did throw for three touchdowns for the first time in his career.
3. 2003, Week 13: Patriots 38, Colts 34
The NFL changed the construction of its divisions in 2002, which meant the Patriots and Colts no longer played each other twice a year. They were reunited in 2003, a year that Peyton won co-MVP of the league. While Manning put up big numbers in this one (4 TDs, 1 INT), he and the Colts were stuffed four times on the goal line in the closing seconds to lose a classic in the RCA Dome. Rookie Deion Branch caught the third touchdown pass of his career from Brady.
4. 2003 AFC Championship: Patriots 24, Colts 14
Many doubted the Patriots despite a 14-2 record on this frigid, snowy January day in Gillette Stadium, but the defense ended Manning’s season by picking off four of his passes. Ty Law had three himself, and only two Colts players caught more passes from Peyton. Brady went 22-for-37 for 237 yards, a touchdown and an interception, as the Patriots earned their trip to the Super Bowl.
5. 2004, Week 1: Patriots 27, Colts 24
After a championship game as great as the ’03 meeting between the Pats and Colts, the NFL couldn’t wait to get those two teams back on the field. And this game kicked off the 2004 season with a bang, as Brady outgunned Manning with 335 yards and three touchdowns. But it was the defense that saved the game, when rookie Vince Wilfork recovered an Edgerrin James fumble that kept the Colts out of the end zone late in the game.
6. 2004 Divisional Round: Patriots 20, Colts 3
Another postseason meeting, another round of “experts” picking the Colts, another Patriots victory. The defense held the Colts to three points after Manning’s team averaged more than 32 points per game during the regular season, and Brady and the offense possessed the ball for 37:43 in the huge victory in Foxboro. Manning threw zero touchdowns and one pick. Brady threw for one touchdown and ran for another.
7. 2005, Week 9: Colts 40, Patriots 21
It took until their seventh meeting for Manning to get a win over Brady. Coincidentally, this game marked the last time the Patriots were underdogs at home until the 2013 Brady-Manning meeting at Gillette. In this game, Peyton was excellent, throwing for 321 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT. Brady threw 3 TDs and no interceptions, but it wasn’t enough. Doug Flutie got in toward the end of the blowout.
8. 2006, Week 9: Colts 27, Patriots 20
Manning made it two in a row with the 2006 meeting, as Brady had one of the worst games of his career. Brady threw no touchdowns and four interceptions, and to make the loss more painful for New England, it was the first time Adam Vinatieri played against his old team. The kicker missed two field goals but hit two others, and the Colts left Gillette with a perfect 8-0 record intact.
9. 2006 AFC Championship: Colts 38, Patriots 34
One of the most painful Patriots losses in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era came at the RCA Dome in January 2007. The Patriots opened up a 21-3 lead before Manning drove the Colts 80 yards for a field goal before halftime. The Colts stormed back to tie the game in the third before the two teams went back and forth, exchanging field goals and touchdowns before the Patriots took a three-point lead late in the fourth. Manning exorcised his Patriots and playoff demons by leading an 80-yard touchdown drive, and Brady was intercepted on the Patriots’ last-minute desperation drive.READ MORE: Richard Seymour's Full Patriots Hall Of Fame Induction Speech
“I don’t get into monkeys and vindication,” Manning said after earning a trip to the Super Bowl, which he and the Colts ended up winning. “I don’t play that card.”
10. 2007, Week 9: Patriots 24, Colts 20
The undefeated Patriots had one of their biggest scares of the season in early November at Indy. The Colts, also undefeated to that point, led 20-10 in the fourth quarter, but two touchdown passes from Brady, which came less than five minutes apart, gave the Patriots a 24-20 lead. Manning’s attempt at a comeback stalled when he fumbled on a sack by Jarvis Green, and the Patriots escaped with a win.
11. 2009, Week 10: Colts 35, Patriots 34
Brady missed the 2008 season due to his knee injury, so the Brady-Manning rivalry was rekindled in a big way in 2009. Brady threw for 375 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, while Manning threw for 327 yards, four touchdowns and two picks. Yet this game was remembered for Brady’s completion to Kevin Faulk on fourth-and-2, which came up just short and gave Manning a short field for the winning drive.
“It’s a bummer,” Brady said.
12. 2010, Week 11: Patriots 31, Colts 28
In what turned out to be the final chapter of this rivalry that involved the Colts, Brady’s 19-for-25, two-touchdown day was enough to earn a victory. James Sanders’ interception at the New England 6-yard line late in the fourth quarter prevented Manning from the comeback.
“I feel sick about it, about not extending the game, not executing to give [Adam] Vinatieri a chance for a field goal,” Manning said of his late interception. “It was a bad throw.”
13. 2012, Week 5: Patriots 31, Broncos 21
The new era of Brady-Manning games took place early in the 2012 season, with Manning in a Broncos uniform for the first time at Gillette. The Patriots opened up a 31-7 lead in the third quarter, with Brady throwing and running for a touchdown, but the Broncos made a game of it, with Manning’s third touchdown pass cutting the Pats’ lead to 10 points with 6:43 to play. The Broncos were driving after a Stevan Ridley fumble, but Willis McGahee coughed up the ball, and the Pats held on for a 10-point win.
14. 2013, Week 12: Patriots 34, Broncos 31 OT
The 9-1 Broncos came into Gillette Stadium looking strengthen their hold on the top spot in the AFC, and it looked like they would do just that after jumping out to a 24-0 lead at halftime.
The Patriots fumbled the ball away three times in the first half, but Brady and the Patriots pulled off one of their most incredible regular-season comebacks . He threw three second-half touchdowns and the Patriots scored 31-unanswered points until a Demaryius Thomas touchdown tied things at 31-31 with three minutes to go in the game.
In overtime, after each team got two cracks at the end zone, the Patriots lined up to punt the ball away with just over three minutes left. Ryan Allen sent a booming kick up high into the evening sky, one that Wes Welker had no interest in fielding. But while he tried to warn Tony Carter the kick was coming towards him, the ball bounced and hit off the Broncos cornerback and Nate Ebner was able to recover it at the Denver 13-yard line.
Stephen Gostkowski booted a 31-yarder a few plays later to give the Patriots a 34-31 win and New England improved to 8-3 on the season.
The Patriots held Manning to just 150 yards, the worst passing day he had during his historic season. Brady and the Patriots improved to 10-4 against Manning with November’s win.
15. 2013 AFC Championship Game: Broncos 26, Patriots 16
The game was never really as close as that final score might indicate, as the Broncos held the Patriots at bay on an unseasonably warm, sunny afternoon in Denver.
The Broncos methodically opened up a 10-0 lead through the first 23 minutes, and the Patriots weren’t able to get on the board until Stephen Gostkowski hit a 47-yard field goal with 2:54 left in the first half. Those points were canceled out rather quickly though, as the Broncos drove 63 yards to tack on a field goal before halftime.
With a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in the third quarter and another Matt Prater field goal early in the fourth quarter, the Broncos opened up a 23-3 lead. Brady threw a touchdown to Edelman and ran in for another score, but the Patriots were thoroughly beaten in this matchup, with Denver controlling the ball for 35 minutes and outgaining New England by 187 yards.
Manning threw for 400 yards, the third-most in his playoff career, as Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas combined for 15 receptions for 219 yards. Brady went 24-for-38 passing for 277 yards and a touchdown, despite having to target Matthew Slater (1 career reception) and Matthew Mulligan (16 career receptions) on occasion.
The game was remembered largely for Wes Welker’s pick play on Aqib Talib, a play that didn’t draw a penalty or NFL discipline but was referred to as “one of the worst plays I’ve seen” by Bill Belichick.
The Broncos went on to lose in the Super Bowl, 43-8, to the Seattle Seahawks.
16. 2014, Week 9: Patriots 43, Broncos 21
Despite the lopsided final score, the Broncos actually held a lead after the first quarter, and Manning actually put up some serious stats. He went 34-for-57 for 438 yards and two touchdowns, but he did throw two interceptions. Both proved very costly, as Brady turned the first one into a go-ahead touchdown and turned the second one into another touchdown on the first play after the pick.
Brady had himself quite the day, too, going 33-for-53 for 333 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
But this game is remembered mostly for Rob Gronkowski’s incredible one-handed catch down near the goal line, one that set up an easy Gronkowski touchdown pass on the following play.
The loss for Peyton dropped his record to 2-8 in his career at New England, both in the old Foxboro Stadium and Gillette Stadium, and that looks to be where his final record will sit. In those 10 games, he threw 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, and he’s only had a zero-interception game in Foxboro once. Manning and the Broncos would go on to lose 24-13 at home to the Colts in the divisional round.
For the Patriots, it was their fifth straight win. They entered the bye the next week and went 5-2 the rest of the way before going on to win the Super Bowl, with Tom Brady taking home Super Bowl MVP honors for the third time of his career.MORE NEWS: COVID Outbreak Reported In New Hampshire's Largest Jail