Much like Elway in his twilight, Manning no longer has to carry the Broncos, nor do their fortunes ride solely on his right arm. His body betraying him, Manning has gone from being quarterback blue blood to serving on the scout team,Air Max Scontate Uomo
, then as a backup for the first time since his freshman season at Tennessee. But three weeks ago he got his starting job back.
Both had each other's back during their off-the-field tribulations.
In that case, Sunday's showdown in the AFC championship between the Patriots and Broncos would mark both the crest and the culmination of a clash that defines the two quarterback greats who transformed the game and transcended the sport.
At stake: a shot at history and sweet revenge.
DENVER (AP) — The final chapter of the greatest quarterback rivalry in NFL history plays out in all likelihood Sunday with the 17th meeting between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Brady has won 11 of the 16 previous meetings, but they're 2-2 in the playoffs, including Denver's 26-16 win in the conference championship two years ago. That game was also in the Mile High City, where Brady has walked off the victor in just two of his eight visits.
Although the two are never on the field together, save for the pregame warmups and postgame handshakes, each is acutely aware of the other's presence. They know they must minimize mistakes and magnify precious possessions.
Not only did he miss nearly half the season with an injured left foot, but he threw just nine TD passes and 17 interceptions — which happen to be identical to Bart Starr's stats in 1967 when he guided Green Bay to a second straight Super Bowl championship.
"Our sports society is built around stars, and stars draw people to the game, those are the players they want to watch. You want to watch Ali and Frazier, Bird and Magic, Brady and Manning," said Tony Dungy,Cheap Nike Basketball Jerseys
, the coach of the Colts for Manning's only Super Bowl win. "We are seeing two just top-tier guys and everyone will root for one and against the other and pick sides and argue who is the best. It draws people,Cheap Shoes Online Free Delivery
, and it especially draws the casual people to the game."
With a seventh trip to the Super Bowl, Brady, still on top of his considerable game at age 38, would get a crack at a fifth Super Bowl ring, something no starting QB has ever accomplished. He'd also put himself one win away from the satisfaction of seeing Roger Goodell hand him another Lombardi Trophy. This, less than a year after the commissioner suspended him in the scandal over deflated footballs, a ban that was overturned in federal court last summer.
"I've always kind of given the boring answer, 'Hey, it's the Colts versus the Patriots and now it's the Broncos versus the Patriots,'" Manning said. "All I can say about Tom Brady is he plays the position the way it's supposed to be played. He's extremely talented. He's a very hard worker, very competitive guy and he just plays the position the right way. When you do that, there's a reason you play for a long time and play well for a long time.
With a fourth trip to the Super Bowl,Wholesale Hockey Jerseys China
, Manning, two months shy of 40 and a shadow of his five-time MVP self, would have a chance to become the first starting quarterback to deliver a Lombardi Trophy to the headquarters of two franchises. He'd also have a shot at recouping every penny of the $4 million pay cut he took last winter and get the chance to ride off as a champion into that orange sunset — like his boss, John Elway, did nearly two decades ago.
"Tom has always been in support of me," Manning said, "and I always try to be the same for him."
"He's an incredible player and any time you factor that caliber of player ... you've got to be at our best," said Brady, who led the league with three dozen touchdown passes this season despite missing many of his top targets for parts of the schedule. "You can't play anything less than your best and expect to win, because he's going to play well and he's going to have that team playing well.
And on Sunday he gets to face Brady one more time, the stakes never higher.
"This is Jesse James and Wyatt Earp standing out in the street at high noon for the last showdown," Joe Theismann said. "You've got arguably the two greatest players that ever played the position. Peyton revolutionized the game and Tom, through his championships, has proven he's the best that's ever played the game."
Their respectful rivalry — they're neither best buddies nor mortal enemies — began on a cloudy afternoon in Foxboro Stadium on Sept. 30, 2001,<a href="htt