(Photo via forbes.com)
Bird vs. Magic. Ali vs. Frazier. Nicklaus vs. Palmer. Individual rivalries in sports often go down in history, and luckily for us fans, we get the next, and possibly final, chapter of another storied rivalry this coming week: Brady vs. Manning. This historic rivalry began in 2001 when Brady and the Patriots defeated the Manning-led Colts 44-13. Brady would then go on to win the next five matchups against Manning, one of which was the 2003 AFC Championship game, giving him claim to a perfect 6-0 record against Manning.
However, the past ten seasons have solidified the Brady-Manning rivalry’s authenticity. In those ten seasons, the two have met ten times, with the record standing at a deadlocked 5-5. Some of their most memorable games occurred over the course of these years, two of which were the AFC Championship games (2006, 2013), where Manning won both times.
During the 2006 AFC Championship game, the Colts came back from a fifteen-point halftime deficit to defeat the Patriots 38-34. A year later, in 2007, the Patriots rallied from ten points down in the final ten minutes of the game to keep their perfect season alive. Then, two years later, the Patriots clung to a six-point lead late in the game, but turned the ball over on downs, resulting in a clutch game-winning drive by Manning. The most recent thriller came during the 2013 season, when the Patriots returned from a twenty-four-point halftime deficit to win the game in overtime.
Sunday’s match-up will be the seventeenth meeting in the rivalry, with Brady holding an 11-5 record overall, but the playoffs tell a much different story. Manning, with two of the three AFC Championship games under his belt, keeps their postseason record tied at 2-2. With a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, Brady and the Patriots will have their work cut out for them. Neither of the two has won on the road since 2007, giving this coming week the potential to break an age-old streak. Regardless, we will get to see two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time go head-to-head in another classic rivalry game this week, but my personal prediction is that the world will be watching Brady come February 7th.
– K. Troy