From a Patriots point of view, I think Bronco fans won't really grasp the significance of this coming game. For you guys, this might be a chance to avenge the beatdown in the playoffs or regular season last year. Or maybe to prove that you can beat a contender after the loss to the Falcons. But for us Patriot fans, this is much more.
Welcome to the War of 1812! I refer to the jersey numbers of both QBs. These two have met practically every year for the last decade, with epic games throughout. First, let me run you through some history...
In 2001, young unheralded Brady and the Patriots hosted the number one pick Manning and the Colts in an epic showdown. The Patriots Defense played lights-out, getting three picks, two of which they took to the house. Brady added 30 of his own, shredding the Colts 44-13. The Patriots and Colts were still in the same division back then. The Colts then hoped for revenge in the RCA dome, but Brady and the hero of the game (David Patten) dominated them 38-17. At this point, Brady had the Super Bowl aura already, but he was still a young QB finding his bearings. The real matchup was considered the Pats D and Manning. And Manning had no answer.
The epic matches continued but let's fast-forward a bit to 2005 when Manning was 0-7 against the Pats in Foxborough but was leading his 7-0 Colts against the 4-3 Patriots. Manning figured them out and dominated them while the Colts D kept Brady frustrated. Brady ended up being benched (garbage time) as the Colts rolled 40-21. Real bad blood came out here, remembered because Bill Polian yelled in the press box about Doug Flutie, "Break his leg!". Basically, the rivalry was being recognized as such. The Colts were conquering a long-term demon.
In 2006, Brady and his Patriots met Manning's Colts in the AFC Championship game at the RCA Dome. At first, it looked like Manning was again about to falter as the Patriots rolled 21-3. Asante Samuel got a pick-six off of Manning and the only points the Colts could get were off the leg of legendary Pats kicker (turned Colt) Adam Vinatieri. But Manning fought hard, got three points at the end of the first half and then led two TD drives with a two-point conversion by Marvin Harrison. Brady came back and responded with a TD (controversial whether it was out of bounds) but Manning again responded to keep it tied at 28 all. After a FG each, Gostkowski got us 3 points, giving us a 34-31 lead. After a few punts, Manning led his team down the field to score a TD. Brady had his chance and drove to the Colts 45 yard line and got intercepted. Manning led his team to the Super Bowl, leaving Brady and the Patriots behind. It was at this point that Patriot fans got scared of Manning. He seemed to have figured out NE.
2007 was our amazing season. But people forget that when the Colts faced us, we were both undefeated. It was a close game and Indy had a 20-10 lead in the fourth. But Brady threw a bomb to Moss, the Pats D held, Brady got another TD and Manning threw a pick. The Patriots won 24-20 in the RCA Dome.
2009 is our infamous 4th and 2 game. The Patriots had the lead and decided to convert on 4th and 2. Faulk bobbled the ball, the ref ruled it short, and Manning shredded our horrific defense to win at Lucas Oil Dome.
That brings us to 2010, one of the most epic games in recent memory. The Patriots defense was a huge question-mark while Brady's offense was still working out kinks. Manning though threw two picks and was down by 17 in the fourth. However, Manning worked his magic, leading the team to a three-point deficit. When the offense had to punt, all Patriots fans were scared out of their minds. We just knew Manning was going to kill us. Sure enough, he carved the D up like cheese, taking the Colts to OUR 24 yard line. It was either a tie or TD and we knew it was going to be a TE. But with 24 seconds left, Cunningham hit Manning's arm, Manning overthrew it, James Sanders jumped higher than we'd ever seen him jump before, and we got a miraculous pick that Pat fans watched over and over again in slo-mo because it was unbelievable. It was a great moment in Foxborough.
So there you have it. A quick recap of one of the most hyped showdowns in NFL history and a true modern rivalry between two legendary QBs who faced each other at least once in every season they both played. Brady missed 2008 and Manning missed 2011. But now Manning is back with the Broncos coming off a dominant win and Brady just finished destroying the Bills. Welcome to Foxborough where Patriots fans await the next chapter of this epic.
In the words of Bart Scott, Can't Wait.
*Rec if you like this.