The debate over who is the better QB – Tom Brady or Peyton Manning — reaches new heights with the two set to clash when the Patriots face the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game in Denver.
It will be the 15th time the two quarterbacks have faced each other, including the time Manning spent as quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots have won eight of the 11 regular-season games in which the quarterbacks have faced each other, including November’s victory by the Patriots.
Brady and Manning have also faced each other three times in the postseason. The Patriots are 2-1 in those games, with Brady posting a better passer rating (81.7) than Manning (61.0).
Brady is a three time Super Bowl champion. Manning has just one championship, but in his second year at the helm in Denver, he had a monster season (first in the league in touchdowns, second in yards, third in completions) and is a candidate to win the league’s MVP award.
Here’s a look at how previous Patriots vs. Manning matchups went.
Oct. 8, 2000: Patriots 24, Colts 16
The Patriots used three quarterbacks and won at home. The Patriots, who went 5-11 in 2000, were able to score 14 points in the final quarter to steal a win.
Peyton Manning threw 54 passes, completing 31 for 334 yards, with a touchdown and 3 interceptions. The Patriots used Drew Bledsoe (15 for 23, 142 yards, 2 TDs), Lee Johnson (1 for 1, 18 yards), and Michael Bishop, who is pictured here throwing his only pass, a 44-yard touchdown to Tony Simmons on the last play of the first half.
Oct. 22, 2000: Colts 30, Patriots 23
Two weeks after their first meeting of the season, the Colts and Patriots met again, this time in Indianapolis. Edgerrin James (seen here eluding Henry Thomas) ran wild for 124 yards and a touchdown, in addition to Peyton Manning’s 268 yards through the air. The Patriots held a 23-14 lead entering the final quarter, but after 16 unanswered Colt points, the Patriots fell to 2-6 on the season.
Sept. 30, 2001: Patriots 44, Colts 13
Tom Brady’s first NFL start — filling in for the injured Drew Bledsoe — was against the Colts, and while the defense played a central role in the victory (four turnovers, two interceptions returned for touchdowns), Brady didn’t make any major mistakes. He completed 13 of 23 passes for 168 yards. Peyton Manning finished with only 196 yards passing, going 20 for 34 with three picks to go against one TD pass.
Oct. 21, 2001: Patriots 38, Colts 17
At halftime, the game was all but over, with the Patriots up, 28-6, in Indianapolis. The Colts had more yards, but the Patriots defense held Peyton Manning to just one touchdown.
Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns, two to David Patten (pictured). It was a game of receivers: Marvin Harrison had 157 yards, Troy Brown had 120, and Patten finished with 117.
Nov. 30, 2003: Patriots 38, Colts 34
The Patriots didn’t face Peyton Manning in the 2002 season. In 2003, the Patriots entered the matchup with a 9-2 record. Tom Brady threw two TDs and two interceptions while Peyton Manning had four scores and one interception. The teams combined for 552 total yards, but there wasn’t a position player that totaled more than 100 yards. One crucial play came with 11 seconds left in the first half when Bethel Johnson (81) returned a kick 92 yards to give the Patriots a 14-point lead at halftime. The Patriots made a goal-line stand at the end of the game to preserve the win.
Jan. 18, 2004: Patriots 24, Colts 14
The Colts and Patriots met a month and a half later in the AFC Championship. The Colts had 446 total yards to the Patriots’ 402, but one extra turnover by the Colts helped the Patriots hold on to the win. Peyton Manning was 23 of 47 for 237 yards, but four interceptions were costly. The Patriots went on to defeat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Sept. 9, 2004: Patriots 27, Colts 24
The rivals opened the 2004 season at Gillette Stadium, and the Colts were looking for revenge for their last meeting. Indianapolis led by 4 at halftime, but Tom Brady’s two third-quarter touchdowns put the Patriots up for good. The Colts had a chance to tie the game as time expired, but Mike Vanderjagt, who had hit 42 straight field goal attempts, shanked his kick. Here, defensive lineman Vince Wilfork took a fumble recovery out of the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Peyton Manning finished with 256 yards passing, going 16 for 29 with two touchdowns and one interception.
Jan. 16, 2005: Patriots 20, Colts 3
For the second year in a row, the Patriots and Colts met in the playoffs, this time in the divisional round. The Colts had had an offensive explosion in the wild-card round against the Broncos, putting up 49 points. Against the Patriots, they couldn’t find the end zone. The Patriots had a 15-minute advantage in time of possession. Peyton Manning threw for 238 yards and had one interception. Tom Brady was 18 for 27 for 144 yards and one score. The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl over the Philadelphia Eagles. Here, a dejected Manning walks off the field as the Patriots begin to celebrate.
Nov. 7, 2005: Colts 40, Patriots 21
The Colts entered the Week 9 matchup 8-0 and the Patriots were 4-3. Peyton Manning hadn’t had much success against New England, and seemed to take the game personally, throwing for 321 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. The other elements of the Colts offense made great contributions as well: Edgerrin James ran for 104 yards and Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne (87) each caught nine passes, for 128 and 124 yards, respectively.
Nov. 5, 2006: Colts 27, Patriots 20
Almost exactly one year later, again in Week 9, the teams met in Foxborough. For the second year in a row, the Colts entered 8-0. Kicker Adam Vinatieri found himself on the Indianapolis sideline for the first time against his former team and was 2 for 4 on field goal attempts.Peyton Manning finished with 326 yards, two touchdown passes, and one interception. Tom Brady threw four interceptions, including this one by Cato June with less than two minutes left.
Jan. 21, 2007: Colts 38, Patriots 34
The Patriots got off to a 21-3 start in the AFC Championship game before Peyton Manning brought the Colts back. The teams exchanged scores until Manning led Indianapolis down the field on an 80-yard drive to put the Colts up for good. Tom Brady had one minute to try to steal a win, but an interception sealed the victory for the Colts. Indianapolis went on to defeat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Former Patriot Dan Klecko (61) spiked the ball after scoring a second-half touchdown that tied the score, 21-21.
Nov. 4, 2007: Patriots 24, Colts 20
The Colts and Patriots both entered with perfect records, and with 704 total yards combined by the teams, it was one of the better games they played. The Colts were up, 20-10, with 10 minutes remaining, but it wasn’t enough for Peyton Manning & Co. Tom Brady led two touchdown drives that gave Rodney Harrison (37) and the Patriots the edge on their way to an undefeated regular season. Manning finished 16 of 27, for 225 yards, one touchdown, one interception.
Nov. 2, 2008: Colts 18, Patriots 15
The Patriots entered at 5-2, and had Matt Cassel at quarterback because of Tom Brady’s knee injury. The Colts were a surprising 3-4, but Peyton Manning finished with 254 yards and two touchdowns. Cassel threw short passes and the Patriots never found the end zone through the air, scoring only one rushing touchdown and kicking three field goals. The winning play came with 8:05 remaining in the fourth quarter when Adam Vinatieri nailed a 52-yard field goal. Pictured: Colts cornerback Bob Sanders (21) had a late interception, and Benjamin Watson made the tackle.
Nov. 15, 2009: Colts 35, Patriots 34
This will be known forever as the “fourth-and-2 game.’’ The Patriots faced fourth and 2 on their own 28, and coach Bill Belichick decided to go for it in an attempt to seal the victory, but Tom Brady’s pass to Kevin Faulk (pictured being stopped short) didn’t get the yardage. The Colts used the two minutes remaining to hammer home the winning touchdown with just seconds left.
The Patriots dominated the second quarter to pull ahead by 10 at halftime and went up, 31-14, in the fourth quarter when Randy Moss caught his second touchdown. The Colts answered with two touchdowns while allowing only a field goal to set up the decisive situation. Peyton Manning’s 1-yard TD pass to Reggie Wayne completed the comeback, and the Colts improved to 9-0 on the season.
Nov. 21, 2010: Patriots 31, Colts 28
Just like the year before, the Colts rallied and were pushing toward a go-ahead or tying score late in the fourth quarter. But safety James Sanders ended the comeback with an interception of a Peyton Manning pass on first and 10 from the Patriots’ 24. The Patriots led, 31-14, but Manning led two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, and the Patriots were forced to punt after failing to convert on third down with 2:38 left, setting up a final attempt by the Colts.
Oct. 7, 2012: Patriots 31, Denver 21
This was the 13th meeting between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, the first with Manning throwing for his new team, the Broncos, after sitting out 2011 with a neck injury. But it was Brady who proved victorious, improving to 9-4 when facing Manning. Wes Welker caught 13 passes for 104 yards and scored the Patriots’ first points on an 8-yard touchdown. The Patriots set a franchise record with 35 first downs, their third straight game with 30 or more first downs. The defense forced three fumbles, including two in New England territory to end scoring threats. Manning ending the day with 337 yards and three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough.
Nov. 24, 2013: Patriots 34, Broncos 31
After New England fell behind 24-0 – largely due to three lost fumbles – Tom Brady led a second-half comeback for the ages. The Patriots scored 21 points in the third quarter to get back in the game and took a 31-24 lead in the fourth.
Manning forced overtime by leading the Broncos on an 80-yard game-tying drive, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick even gave Manning the ball to start overtime in favor of having the wind at his team’s back. The Patriots got a lucky bounce in overtime when former Patriot Wes Welker misplayed a punt – he called for teammates to clear out too late – that hit a teammate and the Patriots recovered and kicked a game-winning field goal.