BOSTON (CBS) – One of the Patriots greatest foes is now officially a Hall of Famer.

Former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. As part of the Class of 2021, he joins cornerback Charles Woodson, wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Drew Pearson, offensive lineman Alan Faneca, safety John Lynch, head coach Tom Flores, and journalist/scout Bill Nunn.

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The only five-time NFL MVP in history, Manning took both the Colts and Broncos to two Super Bowls, winning one championship for each franchise.

Regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history, Manning’s career accolades are staggering:

  • Most 4,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history (14)
  • Tied for the most Pro Bowl appearances in NFL history (14)
  • Most passing touchdowns in a single season in NFL history (55 in 2013)
  • 3rd in career passing yards (71,940)
  • 3rd in passing touchdowns (539)
  • 3-time NFL passing leader (2000, 2003, 2013)
  • 7-time First Team All-Pro

And yet…you can’t tell the full story of Manning’s career without his battles against New England and his on-the-field rivalry with Tom Brady.

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After being drafted number one overall by the Colts in 1998 out of the University of Tennessee, Manning turned Indianapolis, a perennial laughingstock, into a perennial playoff team. But early in his career, Manning’s biggest roadblock to a championship was Brady, Bill Belichick, and the Patriots.

With Brady at the helm, the Pats won three straight regular season matchups against Manning before squaring off in the 2003 AFC Championship Game.

In the end, Manning was no match for the Patriots top-ranked defense that night in Foxborough. Manning was intercepted four times, and New England beat Indianapolis 24-14.

The following year’s postseason showcased more of the same, as the Patriots and Colts met in the AFC Divisional Round. Despite winning his second MVP award that year, Manning’s offense was limited to a field goal in a 20-3 loss at Gillette Stadium.

And of course, the Patriots would go on to win their third Super Bowl in four years.

 

Manning finally got his first win in the series against Brady with a 27-20 regular-season victory at Gillette Stadium in November 2006. But with no Super Bowl wins to his name, everyone wanted to see how Manning would do in the postseason.

Enter the 2006 AFC Championship Game. New England versus Indianapolis, only this time it was at the RCA Dome.

At first, it looked like more of the same. After the Patriots built up a 14-3 lead, a pick six from Asante Samuel off a Manning pass put the Patriots up 21-3.

But facing a large halftime deficit, the Colts rallied with 32 second-half points. And it was Manning who orchestrated a game-winning 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter to put the Colts ahead for good.

 

The final score, 38-34, Colts. It was the largest deficit ever overcome in a conference championship and possibly the defining moment of Manning’s Hall of Fame career.

Two weeks later, Manning won Super Bowl MVP honors in the Colts 29-17 victory against the Chicago Bears.

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The ensuing Patriots-Colts matchups during Manning’s last years with Indianapolis could be summed up by a couple of words, like Week Nine, 2007, and the 4th and 2 Game.

Meanwhile, Brady and Manning each posted MVP campaigns around this time (Brady won in 2007 & 2010, Manning won in 2008 & 2009) and each added more Super Bowl appearances to their respective resumes (Manning’s Colts lost a Super Bowl against the Saints, Brady’s Patriots lost to the Giants twice).

The Colts star soon dealt with injuries, and he missed all of the 2011 season. Wielding the number one draft pick after a 2-14 campaign, Indianapolis decided to use that draft choice on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

And with that, the Manning era in Indianapolis came to an end.

Fortunately, there were still more Manning-Brady battles in store. Manning signed a five-year, $90 million deal with the Broncos and immediately turned them into a top-flight AFC team. But they still had to deal with New England.

Manning returned to the field against the Patriots for the first time in nearly two years on October 7, 2012. He threw for three touchdowns, but Brady bested him in a 31-21 win for New England.

Manning’s second season with Denver may have been the best of his career. He threw for an NFL record 55 touchdowns and 5,477 passing yards in 2013 en route to his fifth MVP award. Denver, perhaps unsurprisingly, went 13-3 that year and grabbed the number one seed.

Still, the Patriots were an AFC contender as well, and showed they could beat the Broncos. Down 24-0 in a November game in Foxborough, Brady and the Patriots roared back to win 34-31 in overtime.

But the two teams met up in the AFC Championship Game. This time, the Broncos took the lead early and never looked back. Manning went 32-of-43 with 400 passing yards and two touchdowns in a 26-16 home win.

Denver got crushed by Seattle in the Super Bowl a couple weeks later, and it was Brady and the Patriots who were able to beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl the next year.

Manning’s last season, the 2015 campaign, was indicative of a man at the end of the road. He threw for just nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions during the regular season, and battled injuries along the way.

But with a top-flight defense, the Broncos advanced to the AFC Championship Game yet again. And once more, it was Brady and Belichick on the other side.

In the end, Manning and Denver prevailed. The 39-year-old quarterback threw for two touchdowns in a 20-18 win.

“Hey, listen, this might be my last rodeo. So, it sure has been a pleasure,” Manning famously told Belichick after the game.

It was indeed his last rodeo, but he capped it off in style, as the Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl. As many expected, Manning announced his retirement about a month after his last win.

So in the end, the Brady-Belichick Patriots went 11-6 overall against Manning. But, Manning went 6-5 after losing the first six.

The Brady-Belichick Pats won six Super Bowls, and Manning only won two. But, Manning was 3-2 in playoff games against New England.

Slice it up any way you want, Manning was one of the Patriots most noteworthy opponents in franchise history.

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And now, he’s officially a Hall of Famer.

CBSBoston.com Staff