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Ranking the 5 Most Memorable Brady-Manning Games

Ranking the 5 Most Memorable Brady-Manning Games

Ranking the 5 Most Memorable Brady-Manning Games

There may be a great debate about who the greatest quarterback is of this generation, but there’s no debate which quarterbacks belong in the conversation. It starts and ends with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, who both have earned a place among the greatest of all time.

Now, this Sunday, they will meet again for the 16th time in their illustrious careers. And since Brady is 37 and Manning is 38 there’s always a worry that they’re meeting for the final time.

That makes this as good a time as any to look back at a series in which Brady has dominated, somewhat, winning 10 of the 15 matchups these two have had. Together, though, they have made a lot of memories. And here’s a look at the five most memorable Brady-Manning games they’ve had:

Jan. 21, 2007: Colts 38, Patriots 34, (AFC championship game) 

This game was played back in the days where there were big questions about Manning’s ability to win a big game. Worse for him, less than one year earlier, his little brother Eli had won a championship of his own. In many ways, this was the biggest moment of Manning’s career. And the Patriots nearly spoiled it by jumping out to a 21-3 lead.

Manning won the day, though, by throwing for 349 yards, including 61 on the game-winning, 80-yard drive that began with 2:17 and ended when Joe Addai ran for a three-yard touchdown that gave the Colts the lead with one minute remaining. When Brady was picked off on the ensuing drive with 24 seconds remaining, the tables were finally turned and Manning was a win away from the first (and so far only) championship of his career.

Jan. 18, 2004: Patriots 24, Colts 14, (AFC championship game)

Just a month-and-a-half after a semi-classic Patriots 38-34 win in the regular season — in which they needed a goal-line stand to survive — the two teams played the first of their three AFC championship games against each other. The Patriots were a budding dynasty then and this rivalry was still young. Manning was considered the best quarterback in football, but he still carried the albatross of being unable to win the big game.

And this game didn’t help. Manning threw four interceptions — three to Patriots cornerback Ty Law — to completely undermine the Colts, who otherwise put up 446 yards. The Patriots would go on to win their second Super Bowl in three years, and in many ways their dynasty was born.

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Nov. 15, 2009 – Colts 35, Patriots 34

There are so many reasons why this game should’ve been a classic. The Patriots stormed out fast, taking a 24-14 halftime lead that became 31-14 early in the fourth quarter. Then Manning stormed back to pull the Colts within 34-28 with 2:23 remaining. Brady threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns. Manning threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns. But none of that is why this game is remembered.

It’s remembered for 4th and 2.

That’s a reference to the infamous Bill Belichick decision with 2:08 remaining in the game and his team up by six, when instead of punting from the Patriots 28, he chose to go for it on 4th and 2. When the Brady pass failed, the Colts had the ball at the New England 29 yard line. Then with 13 seconds left, Manning hit Reggie Wayne for a 1-yard touchdown to give the Colts the game.

Nov. 24, 2013: Patriots 34, Broncos 31, overtime 

It looked at first like it would be a rare rout as the Patriots literally fumbled (on each of their first three possessions) their way to a 24-0 deficit at home. Then Brady led one of his greatest comebacks. He threw three touchdown passes as the Pats scored 21 points in the third quarter and then finally took the lead about a minute-and-a-half into the fourth quarter. Momentum seemed to be theirs and Manning was on his way to another big-game fail — until he led an 80-yard touchdown drive that tied the game with 3:10 remaining and sent it to overtime.

It was a classic dual of great quarterbacks, but that’s not why the game was so memorable. In overtime, the Patriots won the coin tos and Bill Belichick made the gutsy decision to give the Broncos the ball. It worked and a punting battle ensued. And that’s where the Patriots won it, when a punt bounced off the leg of one of the Broncos’ blockers and the Patriots recovered deep in field goal range.

Nov. 4, 2007 – Patriots 24, Colts 20

In the midst of the Patriots perfect regular season, it’s easy to forget the Colts were undefeated for a while, too. Until at 7-0 they met the 8-0 Pats. The Colts did have a 20-10 lead with 10 minutes to go in the game, though, in what would be the first real test for this great New England team. Brady would lead two fourth-quarter touchdown drives, though, hitting Wes Welker for a TD pass with 7:59 remaining and Kevin Faulk for another with 3:15 to go.

That still left Manning plenty of time and he quickly got the Colts out to midfield. But with 2:25 remaining, he was sacked by Jarvis Green and fumbled the football. The Patriots recovered to keep their unbeaten season alive.

—By Ralph Vacchiano