The dust has settled on another football season, and like most years, it ended for Peyton Manning in the same manner. Despite being the best offensive player during the regular season, Manning let up in the most crucial game where it meant the most. Before the Super Bowl sports pundits discussed for two weeks how this game would be a legacy game for Manning, and Peyton did make a statement about his legacy. That legacy being that he is not a good playoff quarterback.
The Super Bowl loss made his playoff record sub .500 again, like it had been until he defeated the Patriots in the AFC Championship this year to reach .500 at 11-11. Now standing at 11-12 lifetime in the postseason with just one Super Bowl title, the discussion of Peyton being the greatest quarterback of all time can now be stopped. In three Super Bowls he’s now 1-2, and his first Super Bowl appearance didn’t come until his 8th season in the league.
Tom Brady, despite recent struggles, has the most playoff victories of all time with 18, and has just 8 losses. He hasn’t won a title in 9 seasons now, but he’s led the Patriots to 2 Super Bowls in that span, and only got knocked out of the first round of the playoffs twice. Even if Brady never wins another title, he’ll be remembered as one of the best playoff quarterbacks of all time, which is the opposite of Peyton. The only other quarterback to start 5 Super Bowls was Joe Montana for the 49ers.
If you compare Peyton and Brady, it’s important to also realize who each quarterback had as offensive weapons. With the Colts, Manning always had Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark, all of whom were elite receivers for Manning to throw to. When Brady won his three championships, he had relative unknowns he was passing to. Some of the biggest names Brady had was Troy Brown and Deion Branch. Had Brady had the core that Peyton did during his Colts days, he may have an extra championship or two. Read more
When the AFC Championship Game unfolds on Sunday in Denver football fans everywhere will be asking the same question: What does Bill Belichick have in store for Peyton Manning and the Broncos record-setting offense, records formerly owned by the Foxboro-based team?
At different points this season, Manning and the Denver Broncos appeared bulletproof and the Patriots appeared to be a shell of a formerly equally potent juggernaut. So-called experts might have doubted the possibility of the New England Patriots reaching this deep into the playoffs. Yet, the Pats are here nonetheless.
We’ve got a rematch we might not have expected when Rob Gronkowski was lost for the season on December 8. Since then, a restructured offense has the NEP offense rolling again thanks to LeGarrette Blount and a machine-like offensive line.
Blount may or may not run wild versus a suspect Denver defense, but the key match-up remains Manning’s offense against Belichick’s defense. No offense, Matt Patricia, but it’s always BB we see coaching the defense up during the game.
You remember the regular season game won by the Pats. Denver ran well as the Pats focused on the passing attack, checking Manning effectively enough to stage an epic rally. Will the same plan unfold tomorrow? That plan relied on trying to disguise what the defense planned to do before the snap. After the snap? Disruption. Or, as Belichick described it:
Disguising is certainly a big part of the game and it’s important, but it’s not as important as playing what you have called. If you can’t play what you have, then it doesn’t matter if you disguise it or not, it’s probably not going to be very good.
Also, don’t forget the apparently genuine respect both men have for each other. Belichick and Manning offer only praise for each other.
The AFC matchup of Championship Sunday sees two of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game go head to head once again as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots go on the road to take on the Peyton Manning led Denver Broncos with a place at Super Bowl XLVIII at stake!
The hype around this game is incredible as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning face off in the 15th installment of a quarterback rivalry that has lasted for over a decade. With both of these QB’s in the later years of their 30’s you would probably say that this could be the last time that these two face off with the stakes being as high as they are for tomorrow.
But as we know you should never count out Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. Manning has finally got to where he wants to be and that is within reach of a third Super Bowl appearance; he is having a monster season having broken Tom Brady’s regular season record for passing touchdowns by throwing 55 and breaking Drew Brees’ passing yards record by racking up 5,477. These stats will count for nothing though if the season doesn’t end with Peyton hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in the air.
Tom Brady is quite simply Peyton Manning’s kryptonite and there is no doubt about it because history doesn’t lie. Even in recent memory you only have to look back at the week 12 encounter at Gillette Stadium where Tom Brady and co wiped out a Broncos lead of 24-0 to win the game 34-31 in overtime. That victory gave Brady his 10th victory over Manning in their 14 games against each other including the postseason. Let us look at the stats between the two in the encounters:
Now I will be the first to point out that tomorrow’s game between Denver and New England is not just about these two men as it is between two teams who are both hungry to play in the biggest sporting spectacle on earth but whoever wins out of Brady or Manning will have their picture posted on websites across the world for the next fortnight. Brady’s 10-4 career head-to-head over Manning says it all and his touchdown to interception ratio shows his efficiency. Brady leads in all categories but one and has a passer rating that is higher by 11! The only category that he doesn’t lead in is passing yardage and you could argue that it is because Manning is behind in most games so his teams have chased the games meaning he passes more but enough of that.
No offence to Peyton Manning fans but they love to use statistics to fight their corner. I don’t want to take anything away from Manning because he is one of the greatest to play at the position but unfortunately for him if the Broncos lose tomorrow that leaves Manning on his own with a record that nobody wants and that is a quarterback with the most losses in the postseason. 12 losses when it matters lost is unprecedented and that does not look good on anyone looking to leave a legacy.
Brady’s legacy will be uncanny if he and the Patriots win the Super Bowl this year. The same applies for head coach Bill Belichick; he claimed his 19th victory as a coach in the playoffs when New England eased past the Colts last week which now leaves him tied in second place with Don Shula. If the Patriots win tomorrow Belichick will tie Tom Landry for the most playoff wins with 20 and if dare I say it the Patriots win the Super Bowl that would be the perfect way for Belichick to break the record and it will leave him on 21.
Back to Brady and his legacy; he is so close to being the greatest quarterback of all-time and if he guides an injury depleted Patriots side that has so many similarities to 2001 Super Bowl winning side it will be the perfect way to cement his name as the greatest to play the game. Brady is tied for Super Bowl appearances with John Elway having played in 5. He and Elway have both won 3 of those which leaves Brady just one shy of Montana and Bradshaw’s record of 4 Super Bowl wins. Brady holds the record for playoff wins by a quarterback with 18 so a win tomorrow against Denver and a Super Bowl victory would see Brady end the 2013 season with 20 playoffs wins, 4 Super Bowl victories and 6 appearances in the big game which in my opinion leaves no debate as to who is the greatest quarterback to grace the NFL.
As I have pointed out though this is a team game and it will take a big performance from the New England Patriots to topple the Denver Broncos tomorrow. The Patriots are playing up to the title of underdog and why not because it puts pressure on the opponents. Personally I feel that they are underdogs as despite the fact that Brady can pick holes in a vulnerable Broncos secondary he goes up against a Broncos run defense that has improved in weeks gone by and they know that they have to stop the likes of Blount, Ridley and Vereen in order to win this game. On the flip side Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense is firing on all cylinders and the likes of Welker and Decker along with Julius and Demaryius Thomas will pose problems for a New England defense haunted by injuries.
For Denver to win this game is to score early because taking the pressure off Peyton Manning is a must especially in a conference championship which sees Manning take to the field in a game of his magnitude for the first time since the 2009 season (Brady on the other hand is making is 8th conference championship appearance). Now this may sound silly as it always applies but turnovers are the decisive and key factor for me. My explanation is that if the Patriots turn the ball over I feel they can still win this game but if the Broncos turn it over it’ll cost them and they will lose. The more pressure on the Denver Broncos tomorrow and the more likely it’ll be that they fall.
New England’s defense is led by the defensive mastermind that is Bill Belichick and despite injuries to Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork the younger guy on the team like Chandler Jones and Hightower have been big for this team. Last week saw the emergence of Jamie Collins and he will be looking to build on his success from that win over the Colts. Rob Ninkovich and Dane Fletcher also deserve a mention too and then there’s the secondary which possesses the likes of Aqib Talib, Devin McCourty, Alfonzo Dennard and Logan Ryan who can all hold their own against the firepower of the Broncos offense.
If the Pats defense can continue to force turnovers it will give them a very good chance of walking out of Mile High as winners tomorrow. Nobody anticipated that the Pats offense would become the ground and pound juggernaut that it has done in recent weeks led by LeGarrette Blount who continued wrecking havoc last week when he ran in for 4 touchdowns and 166 rushing yards which tied a franchise record. If the ground game gets going again with the one-two punch of Blount and Ridley it will open up Shane Vereen in the backfield for Tom Brady and also give him plenty of play-action opportunities which we saw tear Denver apart earlier in the season. Julian Edelman will obviously be crucial to any success the Patriots have tomorrow night and it is also the perfect time for Danny Amendola to step out of the shadow of Wes Welker by outplaying his opposite number. I could sit here night and day writing comparisons but the fact of the matter is that this New England Patriots vs Denver Broncos game will be one for the ages and a playoff game that will be remembered for years to come as well as possibly playing a critical role in deciding an argument that has gone on for years. Brady vs Manning part 15: Let the games begin!
For the third straight year, the New England Patriots are just one win away from another trip to the Superbowl. Are you surprised? This has been a roller-coaster of a year. Who’s standing in the way this season? Old nemesis Peyton Manning and his record-breaking 55 TDs and 5,477 yards will host the quarterback with the most wins (18) in NFL Playoff history, Tom Brady. Peyton Manning is 10-11 in the postseason.
In the Superbowl era, Belichick & Brady have had more games together (191) as starting QB and head coach then Shula & Marino (184) and Noll & Bradshaw (158). The Patriots have gone 148-43 (.775) since 2001, an incredible accomplishment. Their improbable 12-4 regular season record is a true reflection of the “system” Belichick has put in place for the past dozen years. It’s no secret that rookies and reserves have stepped up in absence of multiple key starters being lost for the season (Wilfork, Mayo, Vollmer, Gronk, Welker, Hernandez). While Brady versus Manning is still the main attraction of Sunday afternoon, there are a bunch of impactful story-lines and keys to victory in this matchup of epic proportions. In the past 62 games, the Patriots have only been outscored by 8 points or more in just 2 games (Steelers 2011 and Ravens AFC Championship 2012). This will be a tight game with a small margin for error on both sides of the ball. Check out my collection of notable areas to keep an eye on during the AFC Championship:
1) Red Zone Efficiency: The Broncos are 1st in the NFL having scored a touchdown in 76.6% of their trips inside the 20-yard line compared to the Patriots’ 57.8% clip. Holding Denver to a few field goals is integral for New England. Manning lead his squad to a NFL record 606 total points for, averaging out to 37.1 PPG. Despite being held to 13 against the Jets and 6 points against the Bengals, the Patriots rounded off the year averaging 28.6 PPG and 35.1 PPG over their past 9 games – Indianapolis included. If the New England defense can make a few plays in their own territory with their backs against the wall, it will bode well for another chance at snagging the Lombardi trophy. Assuming the Broncos receive the opening kick-off, going down a few touchdowns on the road is not a good look.
2) Time Management: Keeping the ball out of Peyton’s hands is inevitable; however, controlling the clock is not. The Patriots have developed a signature style of smash-mouth football over the past few weeks lead by impressive performances from the ever-consistent offensive line and LeGarrette Blount. The Patriots are 3rd in the NFL in 4th quarter time-of-possession at 55.1%, compared to the Broncos’ 50.8%. New England and Denver both score the most at 11.2 points per 4th quarter, which is interesting considering the Pats are 23rd in the NFL in the 2nd quarter scoring an average of 6.5 compared to the Broncos’ 9.7. Time management is crucial but Demaryius Thomas can break one at the blink of an eye. The key is for the defense to put the offense in a position to pound the rock and burn the clock.
3) Special Teams: A wild sequence of events lead to a Colts safety, Ryan Allen injury, Brady PAT holding and Gostkowski’s first career punts. In an analysis put together by Dallas News’
Rick Gosselin, the Patriots rank 1st overall in Special Teams. The stat includes 22 different categories but this is no surprise to the New England faithful. Belichick preaches execution in all three aspects of the game every week. Gostkowski had a career year kicking38/41 FGs and stepped up admirably averaging 41.8 YPP on 5 punts and a long of 53 yards in the Divisional Round. Ryan Allen is back to practice and is expected to play on Sunday. Football is a game of inches and whether it’s a punt pinned inside the 5 or a PAT hold, every play matters. A clean special teams performance will put less pressure on the offense and defense.
Stay tuned on game day for part two of my preview and a final score prediction!
Patriots QB Tom Brady & Broncos signal caller Peyton Manning square off for the 15th time during this Sunday’s AFC Championship. It looks like Manning may be slowed down by his new “Mile High” habit though. This voicemail obtained by our friends at Townie News is evidence that the Manning Face may be on the “Wacky Tobacky”.
Patriots win by 7 on a pick six because Peyton thought the corner was a large bag of Doritos…
Okay, let’s face it. 2013 was not a kind year for the Patriots at all. It started with them getting knocked around in the AFC Championship game at home to the hated Baltimore Ravens, there was a star Tight End arrested for murder, and every time Gronkowski touched the ball in 2013, he got hurt. Here are the top 5 Patriots moments from 2013:
5.) Patriots Defeat the Texans in the Playoffs, January 13, 2013.
The Houston Texans were a different team after losing big time to the Patriots on a Monday night in the regular season. Houston knew it was a huge game, and even wore their letterman jackets to Foxboro. That game morally destroyed that team, and when they returned to Foxboro for the divisional playoff game, their tails were still between their legs. The Patriots destroyed the Texans 41-28 to advance to play the Ravens in the AFC Championship for the 2nd year in a row.
4.) Patriots Complete Miracle Comeback Against Browns, December 8, 2013.
Things were not looking good for the Patriots against the lowly Cleveland Browns. They were down by 12 points with just over a minute to play in the 4th quarter. With 1:01 left, Tom Brady threw a 2 yard Touchdown to Julian Edelman to make the game a 1 possession game, but the team still needed to recover an onside kick, which almost never works. Stephen Gostokowski laid down a beautiful onside kick which the Patriots recovered at the Cleveland 40 yard line. After a 1 yard pass by Brady, he tried going deep in the end zone to Josh Boyce, but on the play pass interference was called and the Patriots got the ball at the 1 yard line. They punched the ball in to take a 1 point lead. The Browns still had enough time to drive the ball, and kicker Billy Cundiff missed a field goal as time expired to give the Patriots the win, and keep them in contention for a first round bye.
3.) Patriots get Payback against the Ravens, December 15, 2013.
Whenever the Patriots and Ravens play each other, the games seem to be close. The Patriots went into Baltimore with the Ravens still playing to get a playoff spot with 2 weeks remaining. The Patriots took an early 17-0 lead, but the Ravens kept it close. It was just a 2 possession game in the 4th quarter, but then the Ravens puked all over themselves, and the Patriots defense took over to give the Patriots a 41-7 win. All the “experts” from ESPN picked the Ravens to win the game. That loss eventually kept the Ravens who defeated the Patriots twice last season, out of the playoffs.
2.) Unicorns, Show Ponies, Where’s the Beef?!?! October 13, 2013.
Every football fan has heard Scott Zolak’s call of the Tom Brady’s winning TD pass with 5 seconds left in the game. As amazing as the TD was, it was a miracle the Patriots were even in the position. Trailing by 1 the Patriots failed to convert a 4th down conversion inside their own 30 yard line, and the Saints were only able to come up with a field goal to make it a 4 point game. On the next play, Tom Brady threw an interception, and that surely looked the end for the Patriots. Luckily for New England, the Saints didn’t weren’t able to eat the clock up. The Patriots got the ball back with 1:13 to play and no timeouts. Tom Brady was Tom Brady and kept his cool and drove the offense down field, and eventually it Kembrell Thompkins for a 17 yard TD with 5 seconds left to win the game 30-27.
1.)Brady V. Manning, 24 point comeback, November 23, 2013
It was Wes Welkers return to Gillette Stadium, and of course all the hype of a normal game against Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. On the coldest night in November, the Patriots couldn’t hold onto the ball, as they lost fumble after fumble to the Broncos, and they looked like a team lost on the football field trailing 24-0 at halftime. It was so bad fans at Gillette were booing the hometown team as they went to the locker room. They came out of the locker room a new team. Brady found Edelman in the end zone early in the 3rd quarter to make it 24-7, and the Patriots kept bringing the heat and scored 31 un-answered points to make it a 31-24 game. But Peyton answered and tied the game with 3:06 to play. With the wind playing a major factor, Bill Belichick decided to defer the ball to start overtime after winning the coin toss. It paid off as the Broncos were unable to score. But then the Patriots couldn’t score, and the teams kept punting the ball to each other. With 3 minutes left and the Patriots punting, old friend Wes Welker didn’t call off his teammates in time and a Bronco made contact and the Patriots got possession of the ball in the Broncos 20. That led to the Game winning kick by Gostkowski, and proved to the football world, the Patriots were a legit contender.
Now with the playoffs and 2014 starting let’s see what this Patriots team can do. They hope to go to New York for the Super Bowl in February.