The Manning/Brady rivalry is bigger than the Colts/Patriots or Broncos/Patriots matchups ever will be. The week these two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks face off is like a yearly love fest for sports media. Who's the best quarterback, who had the best teams, coaches, luck, etc. questions will never go away. One of the things that makes the Manning/Brady games so special is that we will most likely not know when the last one will be before it happens.
This Sunday Manning and Brady will meet for the 16th time in their careers. Their first meeting was early in the 2001 season. Let's take a look at that first game to get some perspective on the Manning/Brady rivalry and what the Broncos were up to during their first matchup.
Colts @ Patriots - September 30, 2001
While the Colts/Patriots matchup was originally scheduled to be the 4th game for each team that season, it ended up being the 3rd game played after the Week 2 games were postponed after the September 11th terrorist attacks.
The Broncos' new home stadium Invesco (now Sports Authority Field) opened on September 10th, 2001.
This game was Brady's first start as quarterback for the Patriots after an injury to Drew Bledsoe. Manning's first QB start was in the first game of the 1998 season.
The game was largely won on turnovers. The Colts turned over the ball 4 times that day, with two pick 6's. The final score Colts 13 - Patriots 44.
The same day as Manning and Brady's first matchup, the Broncos lost at home to the Ravens 20-13. The Broncos, led by QB Brian Griese, had 3 turnovers in their loss to the Ravens that day.
(Long story short: avoid turnovers at all costs. Some things never change.)
Clearly the Broncos also have turnovers on their mind this week.
I counted at least 10 blue and green covered balls today. Wow! Every offensive guy you can think of carrying a special ball. Clear message— Darren McKee (@dmac1043) October 29, 2014
The Colts finished the 2001 season 6-10 finishing 4th in the AFC East behind the Patriots, Dolphins, and the Jets. The Patriots not only won their division, but went on to win the Super Bowl.
Mike Shanahan's Broncos finished the 2001 season with an 8-8 record finishing 3rd in the AFC West behind the Raiders and the Seahawks. (Boo!)
Adam Vinatieri kicked three field goals for the Patriots on Sept. 30th,2001. Currently kicking for the Colts, Vinatieri has 4 Super Bowl rings - all four of these teams had Manning or Brady as their quarterback. I'm thinking Vinatieri might be the ultimate winner in the Manning/Brady rivalry.
Sunday's game will not make or break either team's Super Bowl chances or either player's legacy. But it will be a treat for everyone who loves football to see what happens, especially since both QBs are currently playing out of their minds.
Speaking of quarterbacks, I'm really looking forward to Brady getting to know Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware a bit better on Sunday . . .