The greatest quarterback rivalry over the past 10 years is between Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos. In the regular season, Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time and, while Brady is excellent, Manning has been sensational. That continued in 2012 where Brady’s MVP caliber season still came short against Manning’s likely MVP season. But in the AFC divisional playoffs, Brady showed the biggest difference between the two.
The difference between Brady and Manning has always been in the postseason. It took Manning four playoff appearances to finally win a postseason game and he didn’t reach a Super Bowl until his ninth year. Brady has had the opposite postseason results winning three Super Bowls in his first four seasons as a starter and has reached five Super Bowls in twelve years.
In 20 career playoff games Manning is 9-11 for a winning percentage of .450. Having played three less years as a starter Brady has started 23 playoff games going 17-6 for a winning percentage of .739. With his 17th postseason win Sunday he passed Joe Montana for the most postsesaon wins in NFL history. This difference between the two was on display this weekend when Manning’s Broncos lost to the Baltimore Ravens in double overtime with Manning getting outplayed by Joe Flacco. In that game Manning threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns but threw two interceptions. On Sunday evening Brady’s Patriots handled the Houston Texans with Brady throwing for 344 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions.
While Brady has had some great regular seasons he excels in the postseason and this year is no different. His spectacular performance against the Texans had his offense scoring at a pace that the Texans simply couldn’t keep up with. While there have been quarterbacks in the NFL who have been better than Brady very few have been as good during the postseason and Sunday’s game was more proof of that.
The rivalry between Brady and Manning has been the best individual football rivalry in the NFL over the past 10 years. While they’ve been unquestionably the two best at their position over that time many point to their difference in the postseason. Manning’s play in the postseason is not the same that has won him four MVPs but Brady has excelled during the most important time of the year. This divisional weekend was just another example of the biggest difference between the rivals.