By Kevin Saleeba
Since 2001, legendary quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have face-off thirteen times against each other to be the best in the NFL. Brady holds a 9-4 record in the dual for football supremacy. Here is the Brady-Manning matchup through the years.
Week – 3
Patriots 44, Colts 13
The high-flying 2-0 Colts came into Foxboro Stadium to face the 0-2 Patriots. Tom Brady made his first career start as New England was heavy underdogs in this game. Following a brutal hit on Colts receiver Jerome Pathon in the middle of the field by Patriots linebacker Bryan Cox in the first quarter, it was the Patriots defense that set the tone in this game. Colts receivers avoided heavy contact with Patriot defenders and Peyton Manning was intercepted at the Patriots 22-yard line by Otis Smith and returned for a touchdown late in the first half. The Patriots led 23-0 late in the third quarter before Manning ran in a ten-yard touchdown. The Patriots then scored 21 unanswered points, including a 23-yard Ty Law interception touchdown return. Brady threw for 168 yards in his first start, proving in those days to be a good game manager, while Manning was not as the Patriots crushed the Colts, 44-13.
Week – 6
Patriots 33, Colts 17
Brady and Manning were not even the story in their second meeting. Patriots receiver David Patten was a one-man show. He ran in a 29-yard touchdown on an end-around, he caught a 91-yard bomb from Brady, and then threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Troy Brown on a flea-flicker play. Manning was sacked four times while the Patriots also blocked two Mike Vanderjagt field goals in the 38-17 Patriots victory.
Patriots 38, Colts 34
With 14 seconds left in the game and Manning and the Colts threatening to score on the one-yard-line, Manning and his already four touchdowns passes stood under center, trailing 38-34. Instead of passing for a fifth, Manning handed the ball off to Edgerrin James on a run up the middle. Willie McGinest got around the right side of the offensive line untouched caught James in the backfield to preserve the win for the Patriots. Brady had a decent game with 236 yards passing and two touchdowns. The Patriots sprinted to a 31-10 lead, but two Brady interceptions opened the door for a huge Colts comeback, that fell one yard short.
AFC Championship Game
Patriots 24, Colts 14
|Willie McGinest sacks Manning in 2004.
Like many of the early showdowns between Brady and Manning, the Patriots defense was the story in this big game. Manning threw four interceptions, including three to Ty Law, as the Patriots advanced to their second Super Bowl in three years. While Manning continued to throw the ball to the Patriots, Brady continued to manage the game with 237 yards passing and a touchdown.
Patriots 27, Colts 24
During this season opener, signs of the Colts and Manning closing the gap of Patriots dominance began to form. Manning led the Colts to 446 yards of offense against a defense that showed signs of mortality. However, Brady was also emerging as an elite quarterback, throwing 335 yards and three touchdowns. With less than a minute to go in the game, Manning drove the Colts deep into Patriots territory, but he was sacked on third down outside the 30 yard line to set up a Vanderjagt 48-yard missed field goal to seal the Patriots victory.
Patriots 20, Colts 3
|Corey Dillon helps Brady and the Patriots beat Manning and the Colts in the playoffs.
With 522 points scored during the regular season, the Colts came into Foxboro Stadium as heavy favorites to dethrone the Super Bowl Champion Patriots, who were were missing Richard Seymour, Ty Law and Tyrone Pool. However, the Patriots controled the ball for more than 38 minutes with Corey Dillon rushed for 144 yards. Brady was steady with only 144 yards passing and a touchdown. Brady also rushed for a touchdown. Manning was held to no touchdowns and threw an interception to Rodney Harrison with 10 seconds left in the game.
Colts 40, Patriots 21
|Brady fumbles as he is sacked by Colts Raheem Brock in 2005.
Prior to this Monday Night game, Manning was 0-7 as a starter against Brady and the Patriots. Manning and the Colts were determined to finally get the monkey of their backs with a convincing win where he threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns. The Colts were in complete control of this game from start to finish. Brady had 265 yards passing and three touchdowns, but his numbers was merely window dressing. Brady was later lifted in the game for Doug Flutie. The Colts and Manning, with their 453 yards of offense, made a statement that they were no longer going to be pushed around in this rivalry.
Colts 27, Patriots 20
Brady threw four interceptions, while Manning had 326 yards passing and two touchdowns to Marvin Harrison as the Colts waltzed into Foxboro for the second straight season to take the victory.
AFC Championship Game
Colts 38, Patriots 34
|Manning finally beats Patriots in the AFC title game in 2006 (AP Photo)
The Patriots led 21-3 in the second quarter and 21-6 at halftime that included a Manning interception to Asante Samuel for a touchdown. However, New England let the lead slip away in the second half as Manning gained 455 yards of total offense, outscoring the Patriots 32-13 to go to Manning’s first Super Bowl. The 18-point Colts deficit was the largest ever erased by a team in winning a championship game.
Patriots 24, Colts 20
The Colts had a commanding 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter. Two Brady touchdown passes late in the game helped preserve the Patriots 2007 perfect regular season. The game-winning came with 3:15 left in the game to running back Kevin Faulk for the go-ahead score. Like old times, the Patriots defense clinched the game on a turnover, when Jarvis Green forced Manning to fumble the ball away to the Patriots to end the game.
Colts 35, Patriots 34
The Patriots clung to a six point lead on their own 27-yard line when Bill Belichick decided to go for it on fourth down, not wanting to punt it back to Manning and the Colts offense. On fourth-and-two, Brady completed a pass to Kevin Faulk close to the first down marker, but a questionable spot gave Faulk only a one-yard gain. The Patriots were unable to challenge the spot because they were out of timeouts. The Colts took over on the Patriots 28 yard line. It took Manning four plays to score the go-ahead score. Manning threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne to give the Colts a 35–34 lead with 13 seconds remaining.
Patriots 31, Colts 28
Once again, the Patriots jumped out to a 31-14 lead in the fourth quarter, that included two Brady touchdown passes. Manning was not going to roll over. Manning led two fourth quarter touchdown drives and was on his way to a third score when Manning was intercepted by James Sanders with 32 seconds left. The interception was Manning's third pick of the game.
Patriots 31, Broncos 21
|Tedy Bruschi celebrates after his fumble recovery (USA Today).
In the first Brady-Manning game with Peyton as a member of the Denver Broncos, the game played out like many of the previous Colts-Patriots games. Brady and the Patriots jumped out to a big lead, only to end in a furious Manning comeback. The Patriots had a commanding 31-7 third quarter lead. Manning threw two of his three touchdown passes to bring the Broncos closer, but Denver running back Willis McGahee fumbled the football at the Patriots' 14-yard line with 3:48 remaining, stopping the Broncos' rally. The Patriots subsequently ran out the clock. Brady finished with 223 yards passing and a touchdown in the victory.
Whatever happens tonight, the fourteenth meeting between Brady and Manning should be a memorable one. Football fans rejoice!
Kevin Saleeba is the senior editor and columnist for Patriots Insider. A former beat writer for local media, Kevin has extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinSaleeba