Tom Brady threw more touchdowns at Sports Authority Field at Mile High this season than his Denver counterpart Peyton Manning.
Manning’s lone successful pass in six home appearances happened in October against Minnesota. Brady threw three touchdowns when the Patriots played the Broncos in November.
As Manning recovered from a foot injury, Brock Osweiler took the field that day. Wednesday, No. 18 made it clear he’s ready to be a part of the upcoming game against New England, as opposed to sitting in the equipment room.
“You’re watching TV on mute so you don’t have to hear all the analysis. The hot dogs aren’t bad in there. I’ll say that. I much prefer to be on the playing field,” he said at a packed press conference.
Part of Sunday’s focus will be on the general outcome of the AFC Championship. Part of the focus will be on the Brady-Manning rivalry as these quarterbacks meet on the field for the 17th time overall, and the first time this season.
They’re tied at two wins in the playoffs, when it comes to competing against each other's respective teams, but this doesn’t feel like a rivalry.
“As a quarterback, it’s been a great honor and privilege to have competed against him many times over the course of the past 16, 17 years,” Manning said. “I’ve always kind of given the boring answers of, ‘Hey, it’s the Colts versus the Patriots. It’s the Broncos versus the Patriots.’ But all I can say about Tom Brady is that he plays the position the way it’s supposed to be played.”
Posters of Larry Byrd and Magic Johnson wearing “very short shorts” hung on Manning’s wall in the 80s, he laughed. The NBA rivalry is something Manning’s familiar with, but comparing it to his relationship with Brady makes him uncomfortable, Manning said. Professionally and otherwise, both quarterbacks share mutual admiration.
“I have great respect for the way he plays the position and the way he takes care of himself physically -- always answers the bell every single season, every single week. There’s definitely a lot of respect from me and I appreciate some of the things he’s said about me, as well.”
Some of those things were said in Brady’s own Wednesday press conference.
“I wouldn't compare it to any of those rivalries," Brady said about Byrd and Johnson. "But I think playing someone 17 times is pretty cool, especially someone as great as (Manning). To play against those Peyton Manning-led teams, you know you've got to play 60 minutes."
Ahead of Sunday’s game, Patriots coach Bill Bill Belichick told reporters that Manning is the best quarterback he’s ever coached against.
Manning said the Patriots coach and quarterback have held their jobs so long because they’re outstanding.