Brady vs. Manning Rivalry Put To Rest With Decisive 43-21 Victory
The greatest rivalry of all time goes like this:
1. Peyton Manning (No. 1 overall pick) vs. Tom Brady (No. 199).
2. One Super Bowl vs. Three.
3. 55 TDs vs. 50.
4. 515 TDs vs. 381.
5. 67,000 yds. vs. 51,000.
6. 97.9 QBR vs. 96.1.
You have to admit that there is a lot to consider in the history of these two greats. But the most important stat, in my humble opinion, is a simple win to loss ratio. And that was decidedly in Brady's court, even before this contest in week nine got out of hand.
Tommy boy held a 10-5 advantage, certainly a commanding lead in head-to-head battles with Peyton. But just in case there was a shadow of doubt (what with all the records and all), this has to count for something. Brady owns Manning.
So... what else did we learn today?
1. This New England Patriot defense is one of the best they have ever fielded.
I'm not alone in this; Rodney Harrison said the same thing in post-game comments. They may have surrendered 438 yards to Manning's offense, but also caused two turnovers. This has become Manning's Achilles Heel against the Patriots. Denver may have stolen Aqib Talib from New England, but Belichick one-upped them by signing Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner (a fair trade-off in the eyes of Patriot fans).
2. Turnovers and Special Team play will kill you.
I've already mentioned the two picks, but when your Special Teamers give up a touchdown, that is like a dagger in the morale of the whole team.
3. Rob Ninkovich is way underated.
I keep hearing commentators say that Ninkovich is just okay. But he keeps proving them wrong by making plays like he did against Denver today. Manning should have seen the 6'3" 260# linebacker dropping into coverage, but threw the ball right into his hands. Ninkovich has four sacks on the season to add to the INT today, the fifth of his career. In five years with New England he has totaled 27.5 sacks. And he plays both linebacker and defensive end.
4. The Denver Bronco defense is overated.
They were ranked first against the run, and 12th against the pass through eight weeks. The Patriots had no better, but no worse rushing stats today than in previous weeks. But they DID outrush Denver by about 50%. But they could not stop Brady and co. when it counted: in the red zone. The Denver defense allowed four TDs, each to a different receiver. We all thought the Denver receiving corps would present nightmarish mismatches for the Patriot defense, but the opposite was true come the end of this game.
It would be negligent of me not to mention a few specifics that killed Denver and propelled Brady and the Patriots to the victory. How about Rob Gronkowski's circus catch down at the two yard line? And then there was the aforementioned 84 yard punt return TD by Julian Edelman, now the franchise record holder in that dept. in team history.
Stephen Gostkowski was solid, hitting field goals upon command, while Brady threw a cool 33/53 for 333 yds, four TDs, and just one INT (his first in five games). And a good portion of that was TE Gronkowski, eclipsing 100 yards for the third time this season. His TD catch gives him seven on the year, and makes him the third fastest player to reach 50 TDs (59 games as compared to Jerry Rice's 61 games).
Although snow was expected to be a factor, the storm was gone and field cleared before game time. This was a simple mano-a-mano test of strength. Brady won, sealing his legacy as the better mano.