Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady: Looking Back at 15 Showdowns Between the Legendary QBs

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady face each other for the 16th time Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. AP Photo/File

The debate over who is the better quarterback of a generation – Tom Brady or Peyton Manning— is on the table again, with the two set to clash Sunday in Foxborough when the Broncos visit the Patriots. This will be the 16th time the two future Hall-of-Fame 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. Brady and Manning have also faced each other four times in the postseason. The Patriots are 2-2 in those games.

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 won the league’s MVP award for the fifth time.


Here’s a look at how previous Patriots vs. Manning matchups have gone down through the years.

Jan. 19, 2014 — AFC Championship: Broncos 26, Patriots 16

Brady congratulates Manning after the Broncos defeated the Patriots 26 to 16 during the AFC Championship game in Denver.

Manning threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns in the Broncos’ 26-16 win over the Patriots, earning his third career trip to the Super Bowl. Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas caught seven passes on the day, including a touchdown, while the Orange Crush defense held the New England running game to just 64 yards on the day. Brady threw for 277 yards with one touchdown and also ran in for a score, but it was not enough as the Patriots lost their second straight AFC title game. Brady was sacked twice in the game, including a 10-yard loss on a fourth-and-1 from the Broncos 28-yard line that sent the Mile High crowd into a frenzy and essentially sealed the game for Denver in the third quarter. With the loss, Brady fell 10-5 in his career against Manning.

Nov. 24, 2013: Patriots 34, Broncos 31

Manning and Brady shake hands after the Patriots defeated the Broncos 34-31 in overtime at Gillette Stadium.


After New England fell behind 24-0 at Gillette – largely due to three lost fumbles – 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.

Oct. 7, 2012: Patriots 31, Denver 21

Brady dives over the pile for a rushing touchdown at Gillette Stadium in 2012.

This was the 13th meeting between Brady and 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 to come away with a win at Gillette.

Nov. 21, 2010: Patriots 31, Colts 28

Patriots defensive back James Sanders makes an interception with less than one minute remaining in the game to seal the win for the Patriots.

Manning was with the Colts back in 2010. Just like the year before, Manning & Co. rallied against New England and were pushing toward a go-ahead or tying score late in the fourth quarter. But Patriots safety James Sanders ended the comeback with an interception of a Manning pass on first and 10 from the Patriots’ 24. The Patriots led, 31-14, but Manning — who threw for 396 yards in the game — led two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter. 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.

Nov. 15, 2009: Colts 35, Patriots 34

Patriots running back Kevin Faulk makes the reception but it was marked just short of a first down on a critical fourth-and-two play.

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 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. Manning’s 1-yard TD pass to Reggie Wayne completed the comeback, and the Colts improved to 9-0 on the season.

Nov. 4, 2007: Patriots 24, Colts 20

Patriots running back Kevin Faulk leaps into the end zone with the game winning touchdown as he scores on a 13 yard fourth quarter pass from Brady.

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.

Jan. 21, 2007 — AFC Championship: Colts 38, Patriots 34

Manning sees wide reciver Brayan Fletcher (81, far left) as he breaks open and will soon haul in the 32 yard pass late in the fourth quarter that set up the game winning touchdown in the AFC Championship game.

The Patriots got off to a 21-3 start in the AFC Championship game in Indianapolis before Manning brought the Colts back. The teams exchanged scores until Manning led Indy down the field on an 80-yard drive to put the Colts up for good. Brady had one minute to try to steal a win, but an interception sealed the victory for the Colts. Manning finished the game with 349 yards. Indianapolis went on to defeat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.


Nov. 5, 2006: Colts 27, Patriots 20

Colts linebacker Cato June intercepts Brady with less than two minutes left in the game in 2006.

For the second year in a row, the Colts entered the game against the Patriots at 7-0. 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. Manning finished with 326 yards, two touchdown passes, and one interception. Brady uncharacteristically threw four interceptions in the game.

Nov. 7, 2005: Colts 40, Patriots 21

Brady is distraught on the sidelines after he came out of the game for good in the fourth quarter in 2005.

The Colts entered the Week 9 matchup at Gillette 7-0 while the Patriots were 4-3. Manning hadn’t had much success against New England recently, 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 each caught nine passes, for 128 and 124 yards, respectively.

Jan. 16, 2005 — AFC Divisional playoff: Patriots 20, Colts 3

A dejected Peyton Manning walks off the field as the Patriots begin to celebrate at the end of the AFC divisional playoff game in Foxborough.

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. 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.


Sept. 9, 2004: Patriots 27, Colts 24

Patriots defensive lineman Jarvis Green has Manning by the jersey, and ruled in the grasp, for a fourth quarter sack in the 2004 season opener.

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 after Will McGinest sacked Manning for a 13-yard loss, Indy kicker Mike Vanderjagt, who had hit 42 straight field goal attempts, shanked his 48-yard attempt wide right. Peyton Manning finished with 256 yards passing, going 16 for 29 with two touchdowns and one interception.

Jan. 18, 2004 — AFC Championship: Patriots 24, Colts 14

Manning reacts after turing over the ball on downs as the Patriots defeated the Colts 24-14 in the AFC Championship at Gillette Stadium.

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.

Nov. 30, 2003: Patriots 38, Colts 34

Brady signals to his bench with deafing crowd noise at the RCA Dome in 2003.

In 2003, the Patriots entered the matchup with the Colts at the RCA Dome holding a 9-2 record. Brady threw two TDs and two interceptions while 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 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.


Oct. 21, 2001: Patriots 38, Colts 17

Brady gets some pregame advice from Drew Bledsoe at the RCA Dome in 2001

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 Manning to just one touchdown. Brady threw for three touchdowns, two to David Patten in winning for the third time in four starts since taking over for Drew Bledsoe. It was a game of receivers: Marvin Harrison had 157 yards, Troy Brown had 120, and Patten finished with 117.

Sept. 30, 2001: Patriots 44, Colts 13

Bobby Hamilton sacks Manning during at Foxboro Stadium in 2001.

This was Brady’s first NFL start—filling in for the injured 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. Manning finished with only 196 yards passing, going 20 for 34 with three picks to go against one TD pass.


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