Wednesday, December 11, 2013
By Mike Lowe firstname.lastname@example.org
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Royalty.
WHO: Broncos at Patriots
WHEN: 4:25 p.m.
WHERE: Gillette Stadium
• ONLINE CHAT: Talk about the big game with Staff Writer Mike Lowe in a live chat at noon Monday at pressherald.com
BRADY vs. MANNING ... 5 BEST GAMES
Jan. 18, 2004: New England 24, Indianapolis 14
This was the AFC final, the first real showdown between the two, dominated by the New England defense. The Pats intercepted Manning four times,. Brady threw a 7-yard TD pass to David Givens on the Patriots' first drive. Manning then led the Colts to the Patriots' 5, where he was intercepted.
Sept. 9, 2004: New England 27, Indianapolis 24
The Thursday night opener at Gillette. The Colts trailed by three and drove to the New England 17 before Willie McGinest sacked Manning for a 12-yard loss on third down. In came Mike Vanderjagt for a 48-yard field goal. Before he kicked, he rubbed his fingers together as if to say, "This is money." He missed, wide right.
Jan. 16, 2005: New England 20, Indianapolis 3
This was an AFC divisional playoff and the Patriots displayed the blueprints for beating the Colts -- don't let Manning have the ball. With Corey Dillon rushing for 144 yards, the Pats held the ball for 37:43.
Jan. 21, 2007: Indianapolis 38, New England 34
Another AFC championship game between the two. The Patriots led 21-3 after Asante Samuel returned an interception 39 yards for a touchdown with 9:25 left in the second quarter. It was all Colts from there. Manning threw for 349 yards as the Colts rallied to win on a Joseph Addai 3-yard run with 1:00 left. Brady's last pass was intercepted and the Colts were on to the Super Bowl, which they won.
Nov. 15, 2009: Indianapolis 35, New England 34
Great performances by Brady (29 of 42, 375 yards, three touchdowns) and Manning (28 of 44, 327 yards, four touchdowns) but this game will always be remembered for "Fourth-and-2." The Patriots led 31-14 early in the fourth, then 34-28 when they faced a fourth-and-2 at their 28 with 2:08 left. Rather than punt, Bill Belichick opted to go for a first down. That gamble failed and the Colts won with 13 seconds left.
- Mike Lowe, Staff Writer
According to Mark Schlereth, the ESPN NFL analyst, that's what fans will see Sunday at Gillette Stadium when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots take on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
The two quarterbacks have few peers among their quarterback brethren. Beyond being among the most prolific and explosive passers in NFL history, they have achieved extraordinary team success.
Manning, no longer with the Indianapolis Colts after missing the 2011 season folowing neck surgery, is the fourth-winningest quarterback in league history with 143 victories, and has one Super Bowl title. Brady is the fifth-winningest quarterback with 126, with three Super Bowl rings.
Sunday's game will be the first between the two with Manning in Denver, but the 13th overall matchup. Brady holds an 8-4 edge, all the games while Manning was with Indianapolis. While this game isn't just about them, they are the magnet that will attract the most attention.
"Without a doubt, when their careers are over -- hopefully not any time soon for either one of them -- they'll be first-ballot Hall of Fame players," said Broncos Coach John Fox. "I think their body of work to this point -- not that it's nearly over yet -- but to this point, it would be hard to argue."
Brandon Lloyd, the Patriots first-year receiver, said there's a reason the two are considered the best in the league.
"Their preparation, their leadership and just the way they hold themselves to a higher standard," he said. "In order to be on the same team and compete with those guys, you have to do the same thing.
"They naturally elevate the level of play of everybody around them."
This rivalry began on Sept. 30, 2001, a sunny Sunday afternoon at old Foxboro Stadium, when Brady made his first start for the Patriots against the heavily favored Colts and Manning. The Patriots won 44-13, with Manning getting intercepted three times.
But most of the games have been filled with drama because the Patriots and Colts were usually among the best teams in the AFC.
In fact, the last five games the two played against each other -- two wins by the Patriots, three by the Colts -- have been decided by seven, four, four, one and three points.
"It seems like it's always come down to the end against (Manning)," said Brady. "When he was with the Colts, it was always close games."
And over that time, as one might expect, they have become friends.
They talk often in the offseason. And both were pained when injuries forced the other to miss a season: Brady in 2008 (knee) and Manning in 2011 (neck).
"The league certainly missed him when he wasn't in there last year," said Brady.
When Manning reached out to Brady last year to talk about his rehab, "it meant a lot to me," said Brady. "He's been a really good friend over the years, certainly someone I can relate to. We have a lot of things in common, so it's nice when we're going through some things, to bounce an idea or two off one another."
Manning's return has been especially impressive, in that he came back from a neck injury and looks as good as he did before the surgery. He has led the Broncos to a 2-2 start while completing 64.7 percent of his passes for 1,162 yards and eight touchdowns. He has a quarterback rating of 96.9
Brady, meanwhile, has completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 1,227 yards and seven touchdowns in leading the Pats to a 2-2 mark.
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