Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were largely considered the best quarterbacks in the NFL for the majority of the time they spent in the league together, with the icons having many head-to-head clashes in the regular season and on the AFC side of the NFL Playoffs.
Manning was the leader of the Indianapolis Colts of the AFC South, and later the signal-caller of the Denver Broncos from the NFC West. Brady spent his career as the QB of the AFC East's New England Patriots, before taking his talents to Tampa Bay where he has the Buccaneers preparing to play in Super Bowl LV on Sunday. The fact that Manning and Brady spent most of their careers playing in the same conference meant that for the first several years of the rivalry, it would be impossible to see the two gunslingers duel it out in the Super Bowl, but we still have enough material to analyze to decide which QB was the greater player.
Manning vs Brady: Who is superior?
Brady and Manning faced off head-to-head on 17 occasions over the years with Brady's team emerging victorious in 11 of the games. Manning had more passing yards over the course of those 17 games with 4,985, with Brady at 4,323, and Manning also led in touchdown passes, 35 to 32.
When it comes to efficiency, Manning threw 22 interceptions to Brady's 15, and had a completion percentage of 61.3 percent, while Brady's was slightly higher at 64.7 percent. Brady's passer rating was higher, at 92.8 compared to Manning's 87.7. Both quarterbacks were responsible for three rushing touchdowns each.
In a look at some other numbers from this legendary rivalry, the longest winning streak either QB enjoyed was 6, when Brady's teams won the first six games in which Manning was the opposing quarterback. Manning went on a three game streak of his own over the next few seasons, ending in 2007.
In terms of single game passing yardage, Manning threw for 438 in a loss to the Pats in 2014, months after throwing for 400 in the 2013 AFC Championship victory over New England. Brady's highest total came in 2009 in a loss to Indianapolis in which he threw for 375 yards.
Three of the games came after Manning joined the Broncos, but he went 0-3 against the Patriots in that timespan, although Manning did lead Denver to a victory in Super Bowl 50, making him the first QB in NFL history to win a Super Bowl with multiple franchises.
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Conclusion: Brady Wins
Manning's resume is impossible to criticize, as he was a natural leader, a prolific passer, and above all else, a winner. He still holds multiple passing records to this day, and he is a definite first-ballot Hall of Famer. But the reality is that winning is the most important aspect of any career, and Brady won more head-to-head matchups than Manning did. This alone does not indicate that Brady is clearly the better quarterback, as some of Brady's teams were indisputably more stacked than Manning's Colts teams, but Brady also had more overall success, winning 6 Super Bowls in 9 appearances, with his 10th appearance set to take place on Sunday.
Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL without a doubt, but Brady is perhaps the most prolific winner of all time, and it doesn't seem like he's done winning now. Winning is the only thing that matters, thus Brady holds the crown.
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