Rivalries are born on the field and they stretch out and draw even more interest every year by actions taken or words spoken away from the field. That is, unless we’re talking about Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady, a rivalry based almost entirely on their respective accomplishments against each other for the last 15 years with very little vitriol or trash talking away from the field.
And even when a hint of Brady’s insight into how gas Manning has left in the tank, the 39-year-old responded by simply shrugging it off, according to CBS Sports. Brady’s private emails were made public during the “Deflategate” that engulfed of last offseason, and in one message from November 2014 he told a friend that Manning had two years left in his career whereas Brady believed he could go another seven to eight years.
Manning brushed off the revelation as “amateur hour” and said he’s heard far worse throughout his career.
"No harm, no foul, I didn't think a lot of it," Manning said. "Somebody said I was roasted, I've been roasted before and that is not roasted. I haven't been on a Comedy Central Roast, but I've been to a couple private dinners and banquets where I didn't know it was going to turn into a roast of me, but it did. I can promise you that email was amateur night compared to some of the things that were said about me."
It was barely a hiccup compared to most other intense rivalries. Just look at what the Bengals and Steelers said to each other before, during, and after this year’s AFC Divisional Round playoff, as well as some of the current trash talk between Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and members of Denver’s vaunted defense.
So while their teammates are capable of getting caught up in Manning-Brady Bowl XVII, neither quarterback appears interested in getting drawn into anything away from the field.
Brady’s gone 11-5 in 16 career games against Manning, including the postseason, but two out of their last three standoffs have been very close and both quarterbacks proved to be the deciding factors in each game, whether due to their excellent play or rare blunders.
Here’s a quick look back at Manning and Brady’s three most recent meetings, dating back to the 2013 season.
2013 AFC Championship, Denver 26 New England 16, at Mile High
After wrapping up his second year in Denver and posting the statistically best season of his career, highlighted by a record-setting 55 touchdowns and 5,477 passing yards, Manning had to validate his incredible MVP and first-team All-Pro work by pulling off a victory over New England for a Super Bowl berth.
Manning didn’t disappoint, leading Denver on six successful scoring drives out of eight total possessions and hitting tight end Jacob Tamme for a one-yard score and receiver Demaryius Thomas for a three-yard touchdown for a commanding 20-3 third-quarter lead.
New England and Brady’s offense whiffed on their first three possessions, and could only manage a field goal on their first five possessions before two straight 80-yard drives led to touchdowns by receiver Julian Edelman and five-yard rush by Brady.
But Manning was too strong that day, totaling 400 yards passing while going 32-for-43 for two touchdowns and his offensive line didn’t’ allow a single sack while running backs Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball combined for 102 rushing yards.
Week 11 2013 season, New England 34 Denver 31, at Foxboro
A game slightly marred by 22-degree weather, Manning and Broncos must’ve learned from this loss and applied it to the same season’s conference title game. Denver raced out to a 24-point lead thanks to linebacker Von Miller’s 60-yard fumble return for a touchdown, Moreno’s two-yard score, and Manning connecting with Tamme for a 10-yard touchdown and 24-0 halftime advantage
Their backs to the wall, the Patriots and Brady responded with four consecutive drives capped by touchdowns, with Brady rifling off three touchdown strikes and running back Brandon Bolden a one-yard score for a 28-24 advantage early in the fourth quarter.
In between New England’s scoring drives, Manning would toss his only interception of the game, but the Broncos were plagued by turnovers. Returners Trindon Holliday and Tony Carter each muffed a punt and Ball also lost a fumble to up Denver’s giveaways to four.
Manning had a fairly inaccurately day, going 19-for-36 for two scores and one interception, but Denver would’ve had even more turnovers if two of his fumbles were lost. Brady made adjustments and his flurry between the third and fourth quarters resulted in 344 passing yards and three touchdowns. However, he too deal with two fumbles, losing one.
Week 8 2014 season, New England 43 Denver 21, at Foxboro
The two quarterbacks combined to throw 110 times in this matchup, Brady 53 and Manning 57, though the latter had to after Brady opened up a 27-7 lead after finding running back Shane Vereen for a five-yard score with eight seconds remaining in the first half.
Denver started off well with running back Ronnie Hillman galloping for one-yard score to close out a nine-play, 80 yard drive, but one the next possession Manning would throw his first of two interceptions on the day and New England would score 10 unanswered points and erased Denver’s lead with 24-point explosion in the second quarter. Brady found Edelman for a five-yard score, and the receiver then returned a punt 84 yards for touchdown.
The Broncos and Manning attempted a comeback, and appeared on pace to even things after tight end Julius Thomas’s 18-yard touchdown grab. Denver was blanked in their five previous possessions and wound up scoring 14 points in the third quarter, but Brady would launch his third and fourth touchdowns to receiver Brandon LaFell and tight end Rob Gronkowski between the third and fourth quarter for the win.