As Peyton Manning and Tom Brady exchanged platitudes in preparing for their historic 16th matchup this weekend, their peers expressed praise on two of the greatest QBs who will ever play. As Andrew Mason documents -
"I grew up watching it," said cornerback Aqib Talib, who was 15 when Manning and Brady first dueled. "I grew up catching it on TV any time I could."
Defensive lineman Malik Jackson was 11 the first time Manning and Brady first met. He watched them "all the time." "When those two came on, you knew it was going to be a good day," Jackson said.
Brady's teammates praised Brady. Manning's teammates praised Manning. Players on each team praised their opponent. The media ate it up.
Newspapers took this so far that three separate organizations provided an online slideshow of Brady-Manning I through XV, in three different formats.
- Here's Newsday with a look at the rivalry in chronological order.
- Here's The Boston Herald with a look at the rivalry in reverse chronological order, because blog formats are cool.
- Finally, here's USA Today with all 15 games ranked by awesomeness, because lists are cool. (Last year's overtime thriller makes #2 on the list, behind only Brady and Manning's epic 2007 AFC Championship Game).
I've never clipped so many articles about two players in my blogging life. The media coverage of this rivalry is beyond compare, and this 16th matchup is even more-covered than the 14th and 15th games the two played in the 2013-2014 season.
But do you know what's even more insane? It's worth it. The Peyton Manning-Tom Brady rivalry is unlike anything the NFL has ever seen or likely will see again. People look at Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson and see potential for another QB rivalry for years to come. But they're in separate conferences, doomed to only play each other once every four years, barring a Super Bowl match. We'll be lucky to see Luck-Wilson VI, let alone XVI.
I feel lucky as a Broncos fan just to have a small claim in this storied rivalry.
In preparation for a game like this, a player can muddy the waters with talk of a QB rivalry of the ages. I think Wes Welker said it best Wednesday.
"It doesn’t matter who we face," said Welker. "We’ve got to go out; we’ve got to be the Denver Broncos. "
Broncos vs. Patriots
Everyone talks about Manning vs. Brady or Manning vs. Patriots - what about Brady vs. the Broncos? He hasn't been his usually great self against the Denver D through the years.
The playoff implications for this game are fairly huge, according to FiveThirtyEight.com. The Broncos will have greater than 99% odds of making the playoffs if they win, and their odds of landing the AFC's #1 seed swings over 30% if they win or lose.
Sports On Earth notes that the Denver broncos look like a juggernaut this season, a conclusion supported by Advanced Football Analytics and Denver's Mile High ranking there. That being said, USA Today still ranked the Broncos' second-best in their midseason report cards, to the Arizona Cardinals, and I can't really fault them. Cardinals are playing above their talent level and have earned that "plus."
Ronnie Hillman says he is fine. "It'll be all right," he said. "I'll be at practice tomorrow. It's nothing that I can't deal with."
"These guys (the Patriots), they thrive off of turnovers," Hillman continued. "That's what's been helping them win. You eliminate the turnovers, and they're really going to have an issue trying to beat us."
Both Bill Belichick and Wes Welker say they've moved on from basically hating each other and talking about that Aqib Talib hit a year ago. Welker believes he still has a role to play in this Denver offense, as do the Broncos.
The Patriots' epic October was fueled by the return to form of one Rob Gronowski (paywall - ESPN Insider). Grantland looks at his return in GIF form. NFL.com wonders what it would take to stop Gronk, basically concluding with shrugged shoulders rather than any idea that might work. Sorry Jack Del Rio.
Peyton Manning and Chris Harris Jr. reflect on Champ Bailey's career.
Brandon Marshall and Derek Wolfe are both getting better as the year goes on; Mason details one specific play where a double-team against Wolfe opened up the field for Marshall to force a three-and-out.
The San Francisco Giants won the 2014 World Series behind a ridiculous, historic, "legendary" performance from Madison Bumgarner. What a game. I'm not a Royals fan, but if I was, I'd be wondering what would have happened if Gordon had run home for a long time, man.
Congrats #SFGiants or whatever— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) October 30, 2014
Purple Row checks in with key Rockies offseason dates through the rest of 2014.