When talking about the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, the two names that are at the top of most lists are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. The two clashed several times in careers that overlapped for 15 years.
How do the two legends stack up against one another? While Brady has been called the greatest player of all-time, Manning made the battle an interesting one. Here’s how Manning and Brady stack up against one another, including some legendary showdowns.
Peyton Manning Stats and Achievements
Manning came into the NFL with a world of hype, the #1 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. Despite arguments of ‘Leaf or Manning,’ the Tennessee product quickly put that debate to rest. He has done everything possible for a quarterback to do in the NFL.
During 18 years in the NFL, Manning won a record five NFL MVPs. Though he doesn’t have the Super Bowl credentials of Brady, Manning made four, winning a pair of them. When he walked away from the game, he was the all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and other categories.
Plus, he cemented himself as one of the best quarterbacks ever in the history of the Denver Broncos and Colts.
Super Bowls (4, 2-2 record). Super Bowl XLI (win), Super Bowl XLIV (loss), Super Bowl XLVIII (loss), Super Bowl 50 (win)
Individual Awards. 5x NFL MVP, 2x Super Bowl Champion, 2x NFL Offensive Player of the Year, 14x Pro Bowler, 7x NFL First-Team All-Pro, Super Bowl XLI MVP, NFL All-Rookie First Team, 2005 Walter Peyton Man of the Year
Peyton Manning is one of 10 QBs selected to the #NFL100 All-Time Team!
🏆 2x Super Bowl Champion
🏆 5x NFL MVP ('03, '04, '08, '09, '13)
🏆 7x First-Team All-Pro, 14x Pro Bowler
🏆 Set single-season NFL records for pass yards (5,477), pass TD (55) in 2013 pic.twitter.com/KXFZK6Huas
— NFL (@NFL) December 28, 2019
Tom Brady Stats and Achievements
For being the 199th overall pick in 2000, Brady did okay for himself. He only has the most Super Bowl wins of any player, leads the NFL all-time in just about every relevant passing category, and created a dynasty in New England that may never be matched.
To put into perspective how ridiculous his career was, think about it like this. You could divide his career into thirds, and he would have a Hall of Fame resume in each section. Most G.O.A.T. conversations begin and end with Brady
Super Bowls. Super Bowl XXXVI (win), XXXVIII (win), XXXIX (win), XLII (loss), XLVI (loss), XLIX (win), LI (win), LII (loss) LIII (win), LV (win)
Individual Awards. 3x NFL MVP, 2x NFL Offensive Player of the Year, 7x Super Bowl Champion, 5x Super Bowl MVP, 15x Pro Bowler, 6x All-Pro, all-time leader in passing yards (89,214), touchdowns (649), and quarterback wins (251)
🐐 6x Super Bowl Champion (4x SB MVP)
🐐 3x NFL MVP ('07, '10, '17)
🐐 3x First-Team All-Pro, 14x Pro Bowler
🐐 219 wins (most by QB in NFL history)
🐐 74,350 pass yards (2nd in NFL history), 539 pass TD (T-2nd) pic.twitter.com/GBaSQiZMz0
— NFL (@NFL) December 28, 2019
Over 15 years, Manning and Brady collided on a head-to-head basis 17 times. While there isn’t enough room to cover all 17 matchups, there are a handful that stand out from the rest of the bunch. Here are the most notable matchups in the Brady-Manning feud.
2004 AFC Championship Game: Patriots 24, Colts 14
The two had battled a few times prior to this 2004 AFC Playoff game. Despite great numbers, Manning found himself 0-for-3 against Brady. Unfortunately for him, that wouldn’t change here. The Patriots, in the middle of their dynastic run of the early 2000s, made the Colts just another victim.
Brady had a decent day – 22/37, 237 yards, one touchdown, one interception – but the Patriots defense was the star. They hassled Manning all day, forcing him into a less-than-favorable stat line: 23/47, 237 yards, one touchdown, four interceptions. It’s a game Manning no doubt wanted to forget.
2005 AFC Divisional Playoffs: Patriots 20, Colts 3
Brady’s dominance continued, even if he wasn’t having the greatest success. In the divisional matchup between the two, both quarterbacks were merely okay. Brady went 18/27 for 144 yards and a touchdown while Manning went 27/42 for 238 yards and an interception.
Things were tight, sitting at 6-3 just before the start of the 4th quarter. Brady would surprisingly run one in to give the Patriots the 20-3 lead. More importantly, this would make Brady 6-0 against Manning and the Colts. The Patriots wound up going to Super Bowl XXXIX that year, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles for Brady’s third Super Bowl championship.
2007 AFC Championship Game: Colts 38, Patriots 34
To this point, Manning had been somewhat in the shadow of Brady. Not only did the latter have three Super Bowl championships, but he had gotten the better of Manning in just about every head-to-head matchup between the two.
The Patriots led 21-3 at one point, making it seem as though nothing had changed. The Colts scored twice and Joseph Addai’s touchdown run with 1:00 remaining would finally get “The Sherif” and the Colts over the hump and into the team’s first Super Bowl in the Manning era.
2014 AFC Championship Game: Broncos 26, Patriots 16
The third of four AFC Championship Game showdowns between the two quarterbacks. While Brady had the edge early on, Manning and his Broncos had begun to get the best of the Patriots. This matchup put the spotlight on, and Manning made the most of it.
Brady was fine, throwing for 277 yards and a touchdown but Manning had himself a day. He threw for 400 yards on the nose and two touchdowns, holding a 20-3 lead at one point.
2016 AFC Championship Game: Broncos 20, Patriots 18
This would be the final season for Manning, whether he knew that at the time or not. He looked like a shell of his former self throughout the season, but the Broncos defense was good enough to win the division and get the team to the AFC Championship.
Both quarterbacks had their share of troubles. Manning completed roughly 50% of his passes for 176 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brady threw for 310 but was picked off twice. He hit Gronk with 12 seconds left but the two-point conversion was picked off, sealing the win for the Broncos.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning had more jokes for each other. https://t.co/2lT5NgzZfq
— NESN (@NESN) October 20, 2023
Though Brady finished with far more Super Bowls (than anyone, really), Manning has the individual accolades to hang his hat on.
Tom, with longevity on his side, eventually toppled Manning’s totals in every category.
Brady is the G.O.A.T. but Manning at least deserves to be mentioned.