Peyton Manning is 38. Tom Brady is 36. Sunday, they quarterback opposing teams in the AFC title game.
Brady’s first playoff game came on Jan. 19, 2002. Manning’s first playoff game came on Jan. 16, 2000.
What I love when you get old guys still playing at a high level is the walk back through history. Brady beat Andrew Luck last week in the AFC semifinals; Luck is in his second year and might quarterback until 2028. So Luck is connected in a way to whoever Brady quarterbacked against way back when.
Brady’s playoff record is amazing. He’s 18-7 in the post-season. Let’s stop for a moment. That’s a winning percentage of .720 — all against playoff teams. Not playoff-caliber teams. Playoff teams. A .720 winning percentage in the regular season is basically 11-4-1. That’s completely crazy.
Anyway, back to the discussion. Manning’s playoff record is 10-11, which is very good. A bunch of playoff defeats is a sign of strength, not weakness. Manning’s playoff record is good unless compared to Brady or Bart Starr or somebody.
Anyway, that’s 46 combined playoff games for Manning and Brady. Three of those games were against each other. So that’s 43 quarterbacks who have gone against Brady and Manning. Who are those 43?
In the 1999 playoffs, Manning lost to Steve McNair, who played two years for Houston. The Houston Oilers, 1995 and 1996.
In the 2000 playoffs, Manning lost to Jay Fiedler, whose NFL debut came in 1995.
In the 2001 playoffs, Brady beat Oakland’s Rich Gannon, Kordell Stewart and Kurt Warner. Kordell Stewart threw the famed Hail Mary pass against Michigan in 1994. Rich Gannon quarterbacked Tubby Raymond’s Wing-T for the Delaware Blue Hens in 1984.
In the 2003 playoffs, Brady beat McNair, Manning and Jake Delhomme, and Manning lost to Chad Pennington. Meanwhile, Manning beat Jake Plummer and Trent Green. Plummer was the star of Arizona State’s 1996 Rose Bowl team and Green was taken in the eighth round of the 1993 NFL Draft. Back when the draft went longer than seven rounds.
In the 2004 playoffs, Manning beat Plummer and lost to Brady. Brady also beat Ben Roethlisberger and Donovan McNabb.
In the 2005 playoffs, Manning lost to Roethlisberger. Brady beat Byron Leftwich and lost to Plummer. There’s a good trivia question. Who was the first quarterback to beat Tom Brady in the playoffs?
In the 2006 playoffs, Manning beat Green, McNair (with Baltimore), Brady and Rex Grossman. After you’ve slain Brady, Grossman and the Bears weren’t that big a deal. Also that year, Brady beat Green and Philip Rivers.
In the 2007 playoffs, Manning lost to Rivers. So Brady did beat Rivers, after beating David Garrard but before losing to Eli Manning.
In the 2008 playoffs, Manning again lost to Rivers. Brady was hurt and the Patriots didn’t make the playoffs.
In the 2009 playoffs, Manning beat Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez, then lost to Drew Brees. Brady lost to Flacco.
In the 2010 playoffs, Manning and Brady both lost to Sanchez, which won’t revoke their Hall of Fame credentials but ought to.
In the 2011 playoffs, Brady beat Tim Tebow and Flacco, then lost to Eli Manning. Peyton Manning was injured and didn’t make the playoffs.
In the 2012 playoffs, Manning lost to Flacco. So did Brady, though he beat Matt Schaub.
In the 2013 playoffs, Manning beat his other nemesis, Rivers, and Brady beat Luck.
So there you have it. Fifteen seasons of AFC and NFL quarterbacking history, lived through the playoff experience of two great QBs.