During his Hall of Fame career, former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning had one of the most epic rivalries of all-time with Tom Brady. The two legends seem to be pretty good friends now, but they had some pretty intense battles over the years. In fact, Manning recently revealed that one of Brady’s biggest failures with the Patriots became one of his favorite NFL moments. That moment was the 2006 AFC Championship Game.
Tom Brady and the Patriots epically failed in the 2006 AFC Championship Game
Like nearly every other season in the 2000s, the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts were both excellent teams in 2006.
The Colts went 12-4 and won the AFC South, while the Patriots also went 12-4 and won the AFC East. Both teams had two of the best offenses in the league, too, as Manning and the Colts scored 26.7 points per game while Brady and the Patriots scored 24.1 points per game.
However, New England — who defeated the Colts in the 2003 AFC Championship Game and then the 2004 divisional round — looked as if they were going to win the 2006 AFC Championship Game easily. They took a 21-3 lead in the second quarter and then led 21-6 at halftime.
Then, one of the Patriots’ biggest failures of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era took place.
Manning and the Colts quickly tied it 21-21 with four minutes left in the third quarter. The game then went back-and-forth from there after that, but the Colts could not quite take the lead. Brady and the Pats took a 28-21 lead, and then later led 31-28, before gaining a 34-31 edge over the Colts with 3:49 left. Indianapolis, though, finally took a 38-34 lead with one minute left. Then, on the Patriots’ final possession, Brady threw an interception with 24 seconds left. The turnover clinched the victory for the Colts and ended the Patriots’ season.
Overall in the game, Manning threw for 349 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, while Brady had 232 yards to go with a TD and that season-ending pick.
The Colts’ win was Peyton Manning’s favorite NFL moment
Peyton Manning, who recently learned that he will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, discussed his favorite NFL moment during a recent interview. That moment is, of course, the 2006 AFC Championship Game.
“Certainly, Indianapolis, we had so many good years and just didn’t always finish the way that we wanted to,” Manning said, per NFL.com. “And then finally in 2006 we played the AFC Championship Game at home, made a comeback against the great Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. I just remember, from that time we took a knee, to the locker room, to celebrating with my family. Had a great after-party in downtown Indianapolis with family and friends and just the electricity in that city, knowing that it was the first opportunity for the world championship to come to Indianapolis.”
He continued: “There was a buzz and a lot of confidence going down into that Super Bowl because we had finally gotten over the hump against the Patriots. So, I just remember kind of slowing down, having a chance to really take that night in and realize that it’s not just about you as the quarterback or your teammates. It is the fans; it’s the people that have been going to the old Hoosier Dome since 1984 when the Colts moved from Baltimore. Some pretty lean years there for a while. I think that was just a moment that the entire city and state and the players all celebrated together. That’s one that just sticks out as a pretty fun moment.”
Tom Brady still secured the all-time edge over Peyton Manning
Despite the Colts’ epic win in that game coming at the expense of Tom Brady and the Patriots, Brady still won more total games against Manning.
According to Sporting News, Brady and the Patriots defeated Peyton Manning and the Colts/Denver Broncos 11 times compared to the six times Manning’s teams won.
However, Brady started out 6-0 against Manning, but from 2005 through their last meeting during the 2015 playoffs, Manning had a 6-5 advantage. Additionally, after the Colts lost to the Patriots in the playoffs during the 2003 and 2004 seasons, Manning won in their three other playoff matchups, with each of those meetings coming in the AFC Championship Game.
Brady’s longevity, though, which has helped him win an incredible seven Super Bowls compared to Manning’s two, has led to Brady cementing himself as the GOAT.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play. They may not get to face each other anymore, but the legacy of their rivalry will live on forever.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference