With Peyton Manning gone, Tom Brady and Andrew Luck own AFC stage - Metro US

With Peyton Manning gone, Tom Brady and Andrew Luck own AFC stage

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Tom Brady will not get a chance to snap his 2-2 head-to-head tie with Peyton Manning in the playoffs, because Manning pulled one of his classic one-and-done jobs in January on Sunday and the Denver QB won’t be in attendance at Gillette Stadium this upcoming Sunday in the AFC Championship game (6:30 p.m., CBS).

The 2-2 playoff score in the Brady vs. Manning rivalry does not do justice to how much better No. 12 has been when it matters most compared to No. 18. Manning again collapsed in the playoffs Sunday in Denver as his Broncos fell, 24-13, to young Andrew Luck and the Colts. It was the ninth time in 14 postseasons that Manning has been eliminated in the first postseason game he played and the sixth time it has happened at home.

Manning hit on just 26-of-44 passes for 211 yards and threw just one touchdown pass. He finished the day with a 75.5 passer rating.

Luck, meanwhile, took a big step toward being regarded as the NFL’s premier signal-caller. While he threw as many interceptions as touchdowns (two), Luck scored the game’s lone second half touchdown when he connected with Hakeem Nicks with 8:21 to go in the third quarter to put Indy up, 21-10.

Luck now heads to New England to face a Patriots team that has clobbered him three separate times. Luck’s Colts have been blown out by scores of 42-10, 43-22 and 59-24 in games against the Pats.

It will be a tall task for Luck to upset Brady in New England for sure. Brady looked like he was 28-years-old again against Baltimore Saturday night, hitting on 33-of-50 passes for 367 yards, three touchdowns and a pick in the Pats’ narrow 35-31 win over the Ravens. Brady finished that game with a slick 99.3 passer rating.

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