This past weekend in the Divisional round of the playoffs, the number 1 seed New England Patriots took on the Baltimore Ravens, a game that many thought was the toughest matchup for the Patriots.
In the other AFC game, Peyton Manning and the Broncos hosted the Indianapolis Colts, a game the Broncos were favored in. It was a matchup of one of the all-time greats in Peyton Manning playing his former team, led by a third year star, at home.
If the outcomes had came out the way everybody predicted, the AFC Championship game would be hyped to the max with Brady vs. Manning Part 17.
Brady took care of business. Manning faltered.
And with that, the Brady vs. Manning debate came to a close. Tom Brady will start in his NINTH conference championship game this upcoming weekend. Peyton Manning will watch comfortably from his home after being bounced for the NINTH time in his first playoff game of the postseason.
Nine conference championships. Nine one-and-dones.
Many Manning apologist want to say that winning is a team game. And they would be completely on the money. The thing they don’t take into account is that the quarterback position has more of a weight of who wins and loses the game than arguably any other position in team sports. Want proof? Just look at this past weekend.
Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns and also ran one in himself as the Patriots put up 35 points on the vaunted Ravens defense. Brady and the offense had to do that because the usually-reliable Patriots defense let January-Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense score 31 points.
On the other side, Peyton Manning threw one touchdown and scored a total of 13 points at home in a loss to the Colts. The Colts defense definitely showed up, but there is no doubt that Manning was way off of his game. He was missing short throws, deep throws and everything in between. But as a viewer, it would be easy to give Manning a pass on the game, because as Manning apologist will point out, Manning has been playing on a strained/partially torn quad for the last month of the season. Okay, fine. Manning gets a pass on his NFL-record 13th postseason loss.
But what about the other 12? Manning has been one-and-done NINE times. Eight of those times his team was favored. Six of those times he was at home. His team has scored less than 20 points in 11 of the 13 losses, including being shutout in 2002 by the Jets 41-0.
The thing is, Manning is so dominant in the regular season that his playoff struggles really raise some eyebrows. Nine times his teams have won 12 or more games int he regular season (four 12-4, four 13-3, one 14-2). He has a 179-77 record in the regular season. He has 51 game-winning drives in the regular season. But somehow that translates to 11-13 in the playoffs with just one game-winning drive in his entire postseason career.
To put into perspective, Tom Brady has had two game-winning drives in Super Bowls alone, and just had another one this past weekend.
So yes, while winning is a team accomplishment, quarterback play is a huge part of the team’s success and/or failures.
There is a reason why the Cowboys gave Tony Romo over 100 million dollars even though he had one playoff win under his belt. There is a reason why the Bears made Jay Cutler the highest paid quarterback in the NFL even though he had one playoff win under his belt. There is a reason why the Bengals gave Andy Dalton over 100 million dollars and he has yet to win a playoff game (though he has got to the playoffs every year of his career). The reason is simple: When a team realizes they have even a decent quarterback, they lock him up because of the importance of the position.
And while winning is a team accomplishment, so is breaking records. Want proof of that?
When Peyton Manning broke nearly every quarterback record known to mankind in 2013, he was throwing to Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, and Julius Thomas and had a phenomenal offensive line.
When Tom Brady had his best statistical season in 2007, he was throwing to Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, and Wes Welker and also had an amazing offensive line.
For their respective careers, Tom Brady has had a better defense for the most part, especially in the Super Bowl winning days but Peyton Manning has had a far superior offense. But when you actually look at the talent the two quarterbacks have played with, the equality is mind-boggling.
Since Tom Brady started in 2001, he has had a total of 59 pro bowlers around him.
Since 2001, Peyton Manning has also had exactly 59 pro bowlers to work with.
Tom Brady has played with 17 1st team All-Pros in his career.
Peyton Manning? You guessed it, 17 All-Pros as well.
With the combination of playing with a stronger offensive arsenal for much of his career, as well as playing in a dome stadium for much of his career as opposed to frigid Foxboro like
Brady, Manning does edge Brady is career stats for a lot of categories.
However Brady has statistical dominance even in the playoffs as he has the most passing yards, most passing touchdowns and ultimately the most wins ever by a quarterback in NFL postseason history.
There are many other factors that tilt the argument to Brady’s side, and to read them you can check out the article I wrote just a couple of months back at http://sportstation126.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-war-of-1812-legacy-check.html
At the end of the day, we are talking about two first-ballot Hall of Famers, two quarterbacks that are widely regarded as top 5 in NFL history and are extremely celebrated. In no way am I disrespecting Manning or diminishing his greatness. He is an all-time great, arguably third all-time behind Joe Montana and Brady.
But of course, many Manning supporters won’t waver in his support, no matter how much evidence is put in front of them, and that’s understandable. But as a neutral viewer that knows the game, it’s hard to put Manning in front of Brady.
And this weekend just may have iced it.