Opinion: From Brady-Manning I to Brady-Manning XV, the two QBs know drama

Tom Brady Peyton Manning
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning attend the Ermenegildo Zegna Flagship store opening April 13, 2004 in New York City. Credit: Peter Kramer, Getty Images

On Sept. 30, 2001, just seven days after he replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe in the final minutes of a Week 2 loss to the Jets, Tom Brady started his first career NFL game, defeating Peyton Manning and the Colts, 44-13. The ensuing careers of each player redefined a nondescript Week 3 blowout into what is known as “Brady-Manning I,” the prologue to what is arguably the greatest rivalry in sports history.

Since that season there have been three certainties in an NFL fan’s life: death, taxes, and either Brady, Manning, or both, making an AFC Championship game appearance. Think we’re exaggerating? Nope. Nine out of the last 13 of the AFC Championship games have featured one – or both – of the future Hall of Famers. Basic math informs us that’s nearly 70 percent of the time. 70 PERCENT OF THE TIME??? Crazy.

This season is no different. As much as the surrounding circumstances have changed, the two living legends will meet once again on Sunday afternoon to write yet another chapter, the 15th installment, of their storied rivalry. The winner will earn a trip to the Super Bowl against teams led by Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson, who were barely entering their teenage years when Brady-Manning I occurred.


So, what can we expect to unfold during Brady-Manning XV? Probably not much defense. But just because defense could be non-existent, that doesn’t mean points won’t come at a premium. The Patriots won’t look to light up the scoreboard, as playing keep-up with the Broncos is a fool’s errand.

In a war of attrition, Bill Belichick has instead been forced to look down the barrel of his gun and use the only bullets left in his chamber, a fierce running attack fueled by LeGarrette Blount, with the occasional shot of Stevan Ridley, chased by a dose of Shane Vereen.

While it’s an archaic recipe for success, antithetical to the normal complexities associated with New England’s prolific offense, a ball control offense has yielded desirable results in the Brady-Belichick era. Brady boasts a 13-2 record in playoff games where the Patriots break the century mark on the ground, as opposed to 5-5 when they don’t.

With all that said, you’re left pining for a prediction for what’s going to happen in Sunday’s AFC Championship? I’ll do you one better, I’ll give you a guarantee: drama. Neither the Patriots nor the Broncos have lost a game by more than seven points this season. Historically speaking, there are few events that consistently deliver the goods like a Brady-Manning matchup. To that point, six of the last seven Brady-Manning showdowns have been decided by seven points or less.

In the meantime, you’ll hear the dreaded “L-Word” gratuitously thrown around until kickoff, even though, by definition, legacies are defined over time, rather than by one game (hence the term “legacy” as opposed to “that one moment”). The real legacy, however, is the rivalry itself. Every hero needs a villain, a counterpart. Win or lose, Brady wouldn’t be Brady without Manning, just as Manning wouldn’t be Manning without Brady. While we’ve spent most of Brady and Manning’s careers ranking their place in NFL folklore, that guaranteed drama is what truly sets them apart.

Follow Ryan Hadfield on Twitter @Hadfield__



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.