Peyton Manning was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 draft, is on pace to throw the most yards and touchdowns in NFL history and has a league record four MVP awards. So, that means Manning is currently the best quarterback in the league right? Maybe not.
Yesterday in a primetime duel in Foxborough quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady headlined a game that had serious playoff implications. But was anybody really watching the game to see which team may get a first round bye in the playoffs? No, most fans tuned in to see the two greatest quarterbacks of this era in their annual showdown though they do not play in the same division.
Although the Patriots seemed to have the game in hand entering the fourth quarter with a 28-14 lead, the Colts stormed back to cut the score to 31-28 late in the game. With less than two minutes left and the ball in Peyton Manning’s hands it seemed almost certain that the Colts would at least send the game to overtime. But, Manning attempted an off-balanced throw that led to an interception by New England safety James Sanders. With that interception and a failed comeback, Manning displayed that his performance in the clutch is nowhere close to that of Tom Brady.
Peyton Manning may have better statistics and leadership than Tom Brady, but he can’t perform when his team needs him most. Granted, Manning is working with a depleted receiving corp that would be lost without Reggie Wayne, but this is not a first time occurrence. Manning’s lack of performance in the clutch was best displayed during last year’s Super Bowl against the Saints. Down a touchdown late in the game, the Colts needed to march down field like they had done so well all year and score. However, Tracy Porter intercepted a Manning throw and proceded to return it for a game-clinching score. Had Tom Brady been in that situation, the Saints would still be looking for their first Super Bowl win.
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Brady first displayed his enhanced skill at the end of an important game in Super Bowl XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams. The inexperienced Brady worked the two minute drill to perfection and set Adam Vinatieri up for a game winning field goal. Just two years later in Super Bowl XXXVIII, Brady worked his last minute magic again. After a Carolina touchdown with 1:08 left in the game, it seemed that we were going to see the first overtime game in Super Bowl history. However, Tom Brady had other ideas. Brady quickly converted throws to Troy Brown and Deion Branch, moving the Patriots into field goal range. Once again, Vinatieri was able to convert a last minute field goal to give the Patriots their second title in three years.