From opening kickoff to final kneel down, they’re never on the field together. Yet every time their teams meet, Brady vs. Manning, the best QB rivalry in history, trumps all other storylines. So many other factors will go into deciding Sunday’s AFC championship between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos, but this is one of the most special rivalries in history. Heck, it even has its own Wikipedia page.
So, as we get ready for the 17th–and possibly final–iteration of Brady vs. Manning, here’s a look at everything you need to know:
1. Brady’s Teams Are 11-5 vs. Manning’s Teams
The first 12 games in this rivalry came while Manning was with the Indianapolis Colts. New England won the first six, but Indy won four of the next six to push the Pats’ record to 8-4 in those games. Of the four contests with Manning in a Denver uniform, New England has won three.
However, while Brady’s teams have the overall edge, the postseason is a bit of a different story. They’ve split four contests, while New England’s last playoff win over a Manning team came 11 years ago in the 2005 divisional round. Since that Patriots victory, the Colts (2007) and Broncos (2014) have both topped Brady and Co. in the AFC Championship.
Per FOX Sports’ Peter Schrager, Sunday’s fifth head-to-head playoff meeting will be the most for two quarterbacks in NFL history.
2. Brady Has Been More Efficient in Head-to-Head Games
When looking at win-loss records, it’s important to remember there are 51 other players on both sides of the field who are helping to determine the outcome of the game. It is, however, intriguing to look at their individual stats when they match up against each other.
Here are their complete stats through the first 16 games:
Brady: 367/553 (66.4%), 4,013 yards, 31 TD, 13 INT, 7.23 YPA, 5.6 TD%, 2.4 INT%
Manning: 410/657 (62.4%), 4,809 yards, 33 TD, 22 INT, 7.32 YPA, 5.0 TD%, 3.3 INT%
Manning has the advantage in yards, but that’s due to the fact he has thrown over 100 more passes. Brady, meanwhile, has the advantage in completion percentage, touchdown percentage and interception percentage.
Here are their playoff numbers in four head-to-head meetings:
Brady: 85/136 (62.5%), 890 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT, 6.54 YPA, 2.9 TD%, 1.5 INT%
Manning: 109/179 (60.9%), 1,224 yards, 4 TD, 6 INT, 6.84 YPA, 2.2 TD%, 3.4 INT%
It’s worth noting that four of Manning’s interceptions came in their first postseason meeting, which was in 2004.
3. Brady Has 3 More Super Bowl Victories Than Manning
Brady has made six Super Bowl starts, the most ever for a quarterback, and he has won four of those, tying him with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana for the record. Three of those came in the first four years of him being a starter, and his most recent victory, of course, was last year against the Seattle Seahawks.
Manning, meanwhile, has been to three Super Bowls, where he has a 1-2 record. He’s been there once with Denver, a game most Broncos fans would likely want to forget.
Overall in the postseason, Brady’s teams are 22-8 in his starts, while Manning’s are just 12-13.
4. Manning Has Over 13,000 More Yards & 111 More TD’s Than Brady
Partly due to the fact that has been a part of more pass-heavy offenses, and partly due to the fact he has played more games, Manning has better raw numbers in the regular season than his adversary:
Brady: 225 G, 4953/7792, 63.6% 58,028 yards, 428 TD, 150 INT, 7.4 YPA, 5.5 TD%, 1.9 INT%, 96.4 QB Rating
Manning: 265 G, 6125/9380, 65.3%, 71,940 yards, 539 TD, 251 INT, 7.7 YPA, 5.7 TD%, 2.7 INT%, 96.5 QB Rating
And here are their playoff numbers:
Brady: 30 G, 711/1127, 63.1%, 7,647 yards, 55 TD, 26 INT, 6.8 YPA, 4.9 TD%, 2.3 INT%, 89.6 QB Rating
Manning: 25 G, 619/972, 63.7%, 7,022 yards, 38 TD, 24INT, 7.2 YPA, 3.9 TD%, 2.5 INT%, 88.0 QB Rating
Overall, Manning has seven All-Pro selections, five MVP awards, one Super Bowl MVP award and holds the records for passing yards in a season, passing yards in a career, passing touchdowns in a season and passing touchdowns in a career.
Brady has two All-Pro selections, two MVP awards and three Super Bowl MVP awards.
5. They Have Great Respect for Each Other
This is a rivalry in the sense that it’s two of the greatest ever going up against each other, but it’s more of a narrative-based rivalry. It’s not like two prize fighters who legitimately hate each other.
In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite, as said Brady’s father, Tom Sr., explained:
They have great respect for each other. They understand each other as well as anyone can understand. It’s pretty special when you have that kind of a relationship. You want to beat the heck out of each other. But you have great respect for one another.
Future Hall-of-Famer recognize future Hall-of-Famer.