November 24, 2013

Brady-Manning rivalry built on respect

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning might downplay the hype, but there’s no avoiding it.

By Mike Lowe mlowe@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady and Peyton Manning did their best to downplay their rivalry this week.

Today's poll: Patriots

Who will win the Sunday Night Football matchup?

PAtriots

Broncos

View Results

BRONCOS (9-1) at PATRIOTS (7-3)

WHEN: 8:30 p.m. Sunday

TELEVISION: NBC

SERIES RECORD: Broncos lead 27-19

LAST MEETING: Patriots beat Broncos 31-21, Oct. 7, 2012

LAST WEEK: Broncos beat Chiefs 27-17; Patriots lost to Panthers 24-20

BRONCOS OFFENSE: OVERALL (1), RUSH (20), PASS (1)

BRONCOS DEFENSE: OVERALL (23), RUSH (4), PASS (28)

PATRIOTS OFFENSE: OVERALL (11), RUSH (9), PASS (16)

PATRIOTS DEFENSE: OVERALL (20), RUSH (27), PASS (12)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES: Peyton Manning is 4-9 in his career against Tom Brady, 0-1 since moving from Indianapolis to Denver last season. Brady is 4-6 against Denver, but won last three meetings. ... QB Manning’s 34 TD passes project to 54 for season, which would break NFL record of 50 set by Brady in 2007. ... Broncos are 20-1 in regular season since losing to Patriots in Week 5 last year. Current Broncos WR Wes Welker had 13 catches for 104 yards and TD for Patriots in that game. ... Broncos coming off victory that gave Chiefs first loss. ... Denver interim head coach Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville’s former coach, is 0-5 in career against Patriots. He’s filling in for John Fox, who underwent heart surgery ... Julius Thomas’ 10 TD catches are tied with Shannon Sharpe for most by tight end in Broncos history.

– The Associated Press

As Brady’s 7-3 New England Patriots and Manning’s 9-1 Denver Broncos prepare to play each other Sunday night at Gillette Stadium, the Hall of Fame-bound quarterbacks said they were more focused on preparing for the opposing defenses than looking back at their roles in past games.

“It’s just hard to think about too much in the past with kind of just what’s going on now,” said Manning.

“We’re in the middle of an extremely tough conference stretch coming off a physical game, going to play New England, who’s always been outstanding at home, and I just know that every game is just so critical in the conference right now, so it’s hard to think about anything else really besides that.”

Everyone else knows better.

NBC has been promoting the game as Brady vs. Manning XIV. And we all know that Roman numerals magnify a game’s significance.

Sports Illustrated devoted seven pages of its current issue to the matchup, even using a graphic that showed their hair styles through the years.

Make no mistake, this is a significant event. It will be the first game in NFL history in which both starting quarterbacks are at least 90 games over .500 in the regular season. Brady is 143-42 (plus-101) and Manning 163-71 (plus-92).

“What’s remarkable is that these two guys have been able to keep their teams on top, almost no matter what,’’ said Cris Collinsworth, the NBC analyst, in an NFL release. “All they do is keep winning. That’s how great they are.”

But beyond that, even the most casual fan knows who Brady and Manning are, and that heightens the attraction.

Manning, who has one Super Bowl ring, is one of the most sought-after pitchmen in the NFL, his face and dry wit helping sell Papa John’s pizza, DirectTV, Sprint, MasterCard and Buick, among others. Brady, who has three Super Bowl rings, is married to a supermodel. Both have hosted “Saturday Night Live.”

“Two tremendous quarterbacks,” said Jack Del Rio, the Broncos’ interim head coach while John Fox recovers from heart surgery. “Gifted, been part of some great matchups. Both have won the big game, played in several against each other with the opportunity to go (to the Super Bowl) and all that. It’s one where TV obviously wants to have it on. It’s a primetime matchup and it’s great theater.

“But,” he added, echoing a theme the quarterbacks stressed, “it really comes down to two football teams. Whichever football team executes the best is going to win.”

For the most part, Brady’s Patriots have executed the best.

Brady has won nine of the previous 13 games between the two, including the first start of his career, a 44-13 decision at old Foxboro Stadium on Sept. 30, 2001. Manning, who was with the Indianapolis Colts for all but one of these matchups, has won four of the last seven. But Brady has won the last two, including last year’s game against Manning and the Broncos in Foxborough, 31-21.

The Patriots have averaged 29.7 points in those 13 games, Manning’s teams have averaged 24.2.

“We’ve had some great games against them when he was with the Colts, and certainly last year,” said Brady. “We’ve had some pretty good teams that we’ve played with. The games are always enjoyable. It’s always tough competition.

“You just know that with a great player like (Manning) on the other side of the ball, there’s a very slim margin of error. They’re never out of it. We’re really never out of it. It’s just a matter of who makes the plays at the end.”

(Continued on page 2)

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Today's poll: Patriots

Who will win the Sunday Night Football matchup?

PAtriots

Broncos

View Results