Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. These two have been the best QBs in the game for awhile now. Both have had incredible careers that will land them in Canton as 1st Ballot HoFers. Both have had a incredible impact on their Franchises History. So who is better?
That is the question that has been asked ever since 2004.
Now I don't intend to answer that question (although I am a pats fan so you probably can guess who I think is better) , but rather give a fair, objective, in-depth look at both QBs careers.
Let us start with Stats.
Peyton Manning ever since he has entered the league has dominated this category. He has put up good numbers consistently year after year. He has also had a large number of statistically GREAT seasons, his (NFL Record) 4 MVPs is a testament to that .
Tom Brady comparatively has had decent numbers. The highlight of his game has been his stinginess with the football. His worst year interception wise was 14 ints. Lately in his career he has had abnormal great seasons that have given him 2 league MVPs including an unanimous MVP last year. This late surge of stats has just barely given Brady the edge in QB rating in their careers, but they are virtually the same.
Cool alright they have both put up the stats, but Manning has more stats than Brady why is that?
Well the average Colts Fan would say Manning is just the better QB and that is why he has the stats.
The average Pats Fan would say that Manning has had the better talent on offense than Brady and has played 4 more seasons creating this difference in stats. Is that true?
Well let's just compare all the talent these QBs have had their whole career.
The 19th Overall Pick, 8 Pro Bowls The 198th Overall Pick, 1 Pro Bowl
The 30th Overall Pick, 5 Pro Bowls The 65 Overall Pick
The 24th Overall Pick, 1 Pro Bowl Went Undrafted
Edderrin James - 7 Seasons David Givens - 4 Seasons
The 4th Overall Pick, 4 Pro Bowls The 253rd Overall Pick
The 2nd Overall Pick 1 Pro Bowl 43th Overall Pick, 1 Pro Bowl
The 32nd Overall Pick The 46th Overall Pick
Wes Welker - 3 Seasons
Went Undrafted, 3 Pro Bowls
Randy Moss - 2 Seasons
The 21st Overall Pick, 2 Pro Bowls
So after comparing the players it's safe to say Brady has a significantly weaker supporting cast, but did that really effect Brady's stats negatively? Could you make the argument that if he had similar talent his stats would be the same as Manning's? Frankly yes you can. If you look at the stats from the 2 seasons Brady had a comparable receiving core, he had matched even Manning's best stats.
Stats: 50 TDs, 7 Ints, 4806 YDs, Rate: 117.2
Manning's 2004 Talent: Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Brandon Stokely
Stats: 49 TDs, 10 Ints, 4557 YDs Rate: 121.1
Stats: 36 TDs, 4 Ints, 3900 YDs, Rate 111.0
Manning 2005 Talent: Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrson, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark
Stats: 28 TDs, 10 Ints, Rate: 104.1
So it's fair to say that Brady has always had the ability to put up Manning like stats, but didn't always have a talented receiving core and thus did not.
Now let us move to the Rings argument.
Brady has been a very clutch player in the biggest games, and the biggest games come in the playoffs. He posts an excellent 14-5 playoff record and has 5 AFC Championship[ appearances, 4 Superbowl appearances, 3 Super Bowl Victories, and 2 Super Bowl MVPs to show for it.
Manning has been decent in the playoffs. He has had his struggles (2003-2004) and his triumphs (2006), but has come up short more often than not and his 9-10 Playoff Record is a testament to that. But despite his playoff record he has posted a 88.4 QB Rating in the playoffs which is a slightly higher than Brady's.
Alright they have played around the same come playoff time, but Brady has more rings, why is that?
Well the average Colts would say that Brady has had a great defense and kicker and that's the only reason why he has more rings.
The average pats fan would say Brady has been way more clutch than Manning in the playoffs and that's main difference between the two.
Well let us dissect the two reasons.
Brady's Defense in his three championships were pretty good. On route to his first Super Bowl the pats D never allowed more than 17 points in a game. And his kicker made some key clutch kicks to win 2 of his playoff games.
In his 2nd Superbowl the defense was less dominate allowing 29 points to the opposition in the superbowl, and his kicker was 1 for 3 on the day, not a great day for a great kicker.
In his 3rd Superbowl the defense played good allowing only 21 points to the opposition in the big game, and his kicker made a 22 yard chip shot to extend the patriots lead.
So how has Brady himself played. Let me refer to Cold Hard Football Facts for Brady's postseason performance.
2001 – In Brady’s first playoff game, and just his 15th NFL start, he crafted one of the great postseason performances by a quarterback in NFL history. Facing a 13-3 fourth-quarter deficit and a blizzard of legendary proportions, Brady was virtually flawless in the fourth quarter and overtime, ran for one touchdown, led a game-tying drive near the end of regulation and went 8 for 8 on New England’s game-winning overtime drive. In some of the most severe conditions in franchise history, Brady completed 32 of 52 passes for 312 yards (with one first-half interception). Did we mention the blizzard? Brady critics are quick to decry the controversial "tuck rule" that overturned a potential late-game fumble by Brady. The call certainly gave New England hope, but it was not a decisive one. The Patriots still needed two scores to win and Brady was virtually flawless when the game counted most. We submit this as the greatest postseason debut by a quarterback in NFL history. Result: Brady gets it done in crunch time. Patriots win, 16-13.
Two weeks later, in just his 17th NFL start, Brady led the only walk-off scoring drive in Super Bowl history. After St. Louis forged a 17-17 tie, New England took over on its own 17 with 81 seconds to play and no timeouts. The football establishment expected New England’s inexperienced QB to take a knee and play for overtime. Instead, Brady completed 5 of 8 passes (one incompletion was an intentional spike) to put New England in range for a decisive field goal. Brady became the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl and was named the game’s MVP. Result: Brady gets it done in crunch time. Patriots win, 20-17.
2003 – Brady led the New England offense to 11 points in the final three minutes of Super Bowl XXXVIII – throwing one touchdown to linebacker Mike Vrabel – and lifting the Patriots to another Super Bowl title. New England trailed, 22-21, midway through the fourth quarter. With the NFL title on the line, Brady completed 10 of 13 passes for 103 yards on New England’s final two drives. He ended the game passing for 354 yards and three scores and set a Super Bowl record with 32 completions. In just his fourth year in football, Brady became the youngest quarterback to win two Super Bowls and joined Hall of Famers Starr, Bradshaw and Montana as the only players in NFL history to win multiple Super Bowl MVP awards. Result: Brady gets it done in crunch time. Patriots win, 32-29
2004 – In a game that should define Brady’s career, the Patriots entered the AFC title game on the road in a hostile arena against a 16-1 Steelers team that boasted the No. 1 scoring defense and No. 1 total defense in all of football, on a frigid night in which the temperatures reached single digits. It was the second-coldest game in Pittsburgh history. Despite the obstacles, Brady calmly picked apart the league’s top defensive unit, completing 14 of 21 passes for 207 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs and a passer rating of 130.5 – his highest of the season. The 41 points he helped engineer were the most scored against the Steelers since Week Two of the 2003 season. . Result: Brady gets it done in crunch time. Patriots win, 41-27. Brady picked up where he left off two weeks later in Super Bowl XXXIX. Facing a 15-3 Philly team that boasted the No. 2 scoring defense in football Brady was again flawless and again reserved one of his best performances of the year for the season’s biggest games and toughest opponents. He completed 23 of 33 passes for 236 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs and a 110.2 passer rating – the second highest rating allowed by the Eagles defense all season. Result: Brady gets it done in crunch time. Patriots win, 24-21.
So it seems that Defense and kicking played a key part in his Superbowls, but Brady Clutch performances despite his lack of talent on offense being the difference.
So how has Manning played in this time span? Well I think this statement sums it up
In five playoff losses during the Manning era, the Colts have scored just 10.0 PPG.
Yup that pretty much says it right there. Although his defenses weren't as good as Brady's they still did their job keeping the score relatively low in order for their high powered Manning lead offense to takeover, but Manning hasn't been able to produce the points. And not only that he himself has played very poorly half the time. In 3 of those 6 playoff games he posted a QB Rating of 62.3 , 31.2, and 35.5. And that more than anything has been the reason for the Colts not winning a SB in that span.
Now let us look at the rest of Peyton Playoff Career and try to find any more missed opportunities he had to increase his ring collection.
2004: Surprisingly similar conditions to what Brady would be facing the following week. Hostile environment, tough team 14-2 team. Great Defense, Bad conditions Manning responds by posting his worst performance of the year and leading his offense to only 3 points despite getting sacked only once and having the same starting line-up he threw his record 49 TDs to. Clear missed opportunity.
2007: The first of Manning's two playoff losses to the Chargers. The main reason this was a missed opportunity for Manning was his failure to deliver in the clutch not once but twice. With Under 3 Minutes left to play he got the ball twice and both times turned the ball over on downs (including a drive where he threw three consecutive incompletions from the Chargers 7-yard line). Now of course he is not all to blame for this loss (2 picked tipped passes), but nevertheless a clutch performance by Peyton Manning would have given them the win, and because he failed to deliver in the final minutes of the game it resulted in a loss for the Colts. Clear Missed Opportunity
2009: 2nd Super Bowl Appearance in his career. In many circles this Super Bowl win would establish him as the GOAT because he has the stats and multiple championships. Now Peyton Manning has an admirable Super Bowl game. Completes 68.9% of his throws, 333 yards passing, and an 88.5 QB Rating. So where was the clear missed opportunity? Well where it's always been, IN THE CLUTCH. 3.23 Left on the Clock. Down by 7, Driving right within Field Goal Range, IN THE CLUTCH Peyton Manning does the unthinkable. Throws a critical pick 6, effectively putting the game out of reach, ending his quest for a 2nd ring, and losing me 20 bucks. Painfully Clear Missed Opportunity.
Alright, now considering all of Manning's shortcomings come playoff time it is safe to say he that he has played a big role in the Colts mediocre record of 9-10 in the past 19 playoff games in the 13 year Manning Era and considering Brady's supporting cast he still has played a big role in the Patriots 14-5 Playoff record in the past 19 games in the 11 Year Brady Era.
And there you have it a fair look at the Manning Brady Debate.