Brady vs. Manning in the playoffs
Brady vs. Manning in the playoffs
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will meet for the 17th time over their careers on Sunday, but it will be the fifth time they’ve met in the playoffs. Though Brady has had much more playoff success overall than Manning has, when it comes to playing against one another, the results are split down the middle. In fact, Brady hasn’t beaten Manning in the playoffs since the 2004 AFC semifinals in Foxboro.
The masses expect that to change this Sunday in Denver, as Brady and his Patriots offense look more in-sync after a win over the Chiefs than Manning and his offense after the Broncos squeaked one out over the Steelers. Nobody in New England outside of Gillette Stadium is giving Manning much respect, but as the saying goes, any given Sunday.
2003 AFC Championship in Foxboro
The lead-up to the first AFC Championship Game matchup between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning was completely different than that of this week’s. Back then, Peyton Manning was the talk of the league after tearing apart the Broncos and Chiefs defenses with eight total touchdowns. How quickly that tune would change in Foxboro, though.
The Patriots defense picked off Manning four times - three by Ty Law - in the game as New England jumped out to a 15-0, and then 21-7 lead. Tom Brady and the Patriots had a hard time converting turnovers and red zone trips into touchdowns, but Adam Vinatieri’s five field goals were enough. Brady finished 22-for-37 for 237 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Manning, meanwhile, also threw for 237 yards, completing one more pass but in 10 more attempts. He threw one touchdown, and yeah, four balls to guys in Patriots jerseys. The Patriots won, 24-14.
2004 AFC semifinals in Foxboro
Would it be deja vu in New England? As it turns out, yes. Fresh off a five-touchdown (one rushing), 457-yard thrashing of his future team, the Colts left the Broncos in the dust and proceeded to get dusted by the Patriots yet again. And this time Manning’s offense had even less success, only mustering up a lousy three points as the Patriots won 20-3.
Manning was 27-for-42 for 238 yards and an interception. But this was not a game in which Tom Brady wowed with his arm, either. In fact, Brady was just 18-for-27 for 144 yards and a touchdown - though he did pound one in from the one-yard line, too. Game manager Brady, folks. Corey Dillon helped keep Manning off the field with 144 rushing yards, while a harsh defense and even harsher cold weather did the rest.
2006 AFC Championship in Indianapolis
It was Patriots-Colts for the third time in four years, and through 30 minutes of football it felt as if this one was going to go just like the first two did, despite things taking place in Indianapolis. New England jumped out to a 21-6 halftime lead, which included a Peyton Manning pick-six.
But the Colts came out firing in the second half, halting Patriots parties around New England. Manning marched the Colts to two 76-yard touchdown drives, capping one off with a one-yard rush and the other with a one-yard pass to Dan Klecko. An 80-yard kickoff return set Tom Brady and the Patriots up with a short field to re-take the lead on a six-yard touchdown pass to Jabar Gaffney late in the third quarter, but Manning - who would not let this one slip away again - had an answer early in the fourth quarter to tie it up.
The rest of the fourth quarter went like this: Field goal, Stephen Gostkowski. Field goal, Adam Vinatieri. Field goal, Gostkowski. Touchdown, Joseph Addai. That’s right - with just under four minutes to work with, Manning drove the Colts 66 yards, capped off by an Addai three-yard touchdown to give Indy their first lead. Brady’s last-minute drive ended in an interception - the Colts were going to the Super Bowl, beating the Patriots 38-34. Manning’s 349 passing yards were over 100 more than his first two playoff games against the Patriots.
2013 AFC Championship in Denver
It had been seven years since Brady and Manning met in the playoffs. A lot had changed since then, but both Brady and Manning were still in the discussion for top quarterbacks in the NFL - and that’s after both missed seasons due to surgeries, Brady his ACL in 2008, Manning his neck in 2011. Naturally, both players earned Comeback Player of the Year honors the following season.
Manning won a Super Bowl after knocking off the Patriots in the 2006 AFC Championship Game. Brady went to two - losing both times to Peyton’s brother, Eli.
But like the first two playoff matchups between Brady and Peyton Manning, there was plenty of hype surrounding Manning and his 55 regular season touchdowns, an NFL record. Unlike those first two matches? Manning, now with the Broncos, got the best of the Patriots.
After 60 minutes of football, Manning was headed to his third Super Bowl. He took advantage of Aqib Talib’s knee injury and threw for a whopping 400 yards, 134 of which went to Demaryius Thomas. Manning had plenty of other weapons too, including Julius Thomas (8 catches, 85 yards), Eric Decker (5 catches, 73 yards), and old friend Wes Welker (4 catches, 38 yards).
Brady, meanwhile, struggled to get a whole lot going without Rob Gronkowski (who tore his ACL in December) and a legit outside threat. Brady finished with 277 yards, a passing touchdown, and a rushing touchdown, but neither of those touchdowns came until the fourth quarter with the Patriots already down 23-3 and then 26-10. Manning prevailed, 26-16.