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Manning vs. Brady: One last time?

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — On Sunday, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will stand on opposite sides of a football field yet again.

The meeting will be the fifth and perhaps final time they square off in the playoffs. The winner will once again make a trip to the Super Bowl.

Brady and Manning have each won twice in the playoffs against each other. Brady’s last win against Manning in the playoffs was eleven years ago. Manning has one Super Bowl win against Brady’s four.

Brady and Manning’s first playoff encounter was in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 18, 2004. It was at that time the deepest Manning had ever been in the playoffs. New England’s defense forced four interceptions and sacked Manning four times on the way to a 24-14 victory in New England. The win would ultimately lead to Brady’s second Super Bowl, a 32-19 win over the Carolina Panthers.


A year later in the AFC Divisional Round would have a similar outcome. Manning put up better numbers than Brady on the day, but New England running back Corey Dillon ran all over the Indianapolis defense on his way to 144 yards. New England controlled the ball for more than 37 minutes and held Edgerrin James to just 39 yards, winning 20-3 in New England. At the end of the season, Brady would become a three-time Super Bowl winner, toppling Philadelphia 24-21 at Super Bowl XXXIX.

Two more years would pass before another playoff meeting. Jan. 21, 2007 would see the quarterbacks meet in Indianapolis with another trip to the Super Bowl on the line. In the second quarter, the game was looking like another letdown for Colts fans as the Patriots led 21-3 following an interception returned for a touchdown by Asante Samuel.

Manning and the Colts would launch a comeback, tying the game in the third and finally taking the lead with just over a minute left in the game on a three-yard run by Joseph Addai. Marlin Jackson would intercept Tom Brady and launch the Colts to the Super Bowl, the first of the Manning era. Two weeks later, Indianapolis would have its first Super Bowl win, a 29-17 victory over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

That would be the last time Manning met Brady in the playoffs as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. Seven more years would pass before they met again, but with Manning leading the Denver Broncos.

An AFC Championship Game would again be the setting for the fourth battle between the legendary quarterbacks. The game would be Manning’s best postseason performance as a Bronco to date. Manning threw for exactly 400 yards and the Broncos never trailed in the game, winning 26-16. However, the Broncos were later crushed at Super Bowl XLVIII by the Seattle Seahawks, losing 43-8.

Will Sunday’s AFC Championship Game be the last time the two greatest quarterbacks of their generation meet as rivals?