Manning and Brady primed to renew storied rivalry
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will renew their storied rivalry in Sunday's AFC title game but the clash will be unlike any other as it may be the last between two of the National Football League's greatest quarterbacks.
When Manning leads his Denver Broncos onto the field to face the New England Patriots he will be two months shy of his 40th birthday and playing what could be the final game of a career that includes a Super Bowl win, five most valuable player awards and numerous passing records.
So if this is the final NFL season for Manning, who has been plagued by injury and questionable form recently, then it is only fitting that he will have to overcome the Brady-led Patriots to get a shot at another Super Bowl title.
"It'll be the Broncos versus the Patriots," Manning said after Sunday's victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. "We'll enjoy this one tonight. I think you knew that answer was coming. I'll be talking about them on Wednesday."
Brady (38) has won 11 of 16 career meetings versus Manning, but the future Hall of Fame quarterbacks are 2-2 in post-season match-ups.
The big difference going into this clash is that Brady, who won his fourth Super Bowl title last year, is still playing at the top of his game, while Manning is relying more on his veteran savvy trying to rediscover his old form.
Manning refused to get philosophical about the upcoming clash with his nemesis, but his Denver team-mates were happy to chime in.
"It's two bigwigs going against each other, arguably the two best quarterbacks in their era," Broncos defensive end Antonio Smith said. "We all know that. And sometimes, even as a player, you will take a minute to sit back in the game and watch their greatness."
Next weekend's NFC decider will be a mouth-watering clash between the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers, who held off a late charge from the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday's other game.