For quite possibly the last time, the two most accomplished quarterbacks of this era — Tom Brady and Peyton Manning — will go toe-to-toe next Sunday with a trip to Super Bowl 50 on the line.
This is their 17th meeting (including the playoffs): Brady’s Patriots have defeated Manning in 11 of their 16 matchups.
This is their fourth meeting in the AFC championship game: Brady’s Patriots won the first (2003) but then lost to Manning’s Colts in 2006 and his Broncos in 2013. Throw in a divisional playoff meeting in 2004 and this is their fifth postseason matchup, with each having won two.
But it’s there’s more to that story: Manning had an abysmal performance in a 24-14 loss when they first met in the playoffs in 2003, throwing four interceptions. If you remove that game from the equation for both quarterbacks, Manning has actually been a little better.
A lot more: Manning has had to do a lot more heavy lifting in those matchups. He’s thrown 44.8 passes per game, compared to Brady’s 34.0. His team has also surrendered 23.5 points per game, while the Patriots have given up 20.3. Brady has also received more support from his running game in those contests.
Brady’s teams have outscored Manning’s teams by more than five points per meeting: Only eight of the 16 matchups between the two have been decided by fewer than 10 points. And in those “close’ games, the Pats are 5-3. Manning has only beaten Brady by more than seven points one time in 16 games. That 40-21 Indianapolis victory came on the road on Monday Night Football in 2005.
The two are (obviously) quite prolific: Some numbers to consider…
- They’ve won a combined seven NFL MVPs
- They’ve been first-team All-Pros a combined nine times
- They’ve been selected to a combined 24 Pro Bowls
- They rank first (Manning) and fifth (Brady) on the all-time passing yardage list
- They rank first (Manning) and third (Brady) on the all-time passing touchdowns list
- Manning’s passer rating (96.5) ranks fifth in history, while Brady’s (96.4) ranks sixth
- Manning ranks tied for first all time with 186 wins, while Brady ranks third with 172
- But Brady ranks first all time with 22 playoff wins, while Manning ranks sixth with 12
- Manning has won 198 career regular-season and playoff games and has a winning percentage of .685, while Brady has won 194 career regular-season and playoff games and has a winning percentage of .767.
The two have been to a combined nine Super Bowls: Next week, that number will grow to 10. The question is whether Brady will be headed to a seventh or Manning a fourth.