Tom Brady Peyton Manning's records will be broken
NFL playoffs : One last time Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady?
Denver, with its stadium, is one of the few places Tom Brady and the New England Patriots rarely did well. Only two wins from eight attempts, nowhere did the quarterback and his teammates look worse for more than 15 years. The external circumstances can be a torture for visiting teams, it is difficult to breathe in the thin air at 1,600 meters above sea level. Denver's players are used to it, but guests burn their lungs faster. Sometimes it's still windy in Mile High, sometimes bitterly cold.
In this inhospitable place, the biggest sporting rivalry of the National Football League (NFL) will probably see its final act on Sunday. They face each other, the two best quarterbacks of their era: Peyton Manning of the Broncos, who is likely to retire after this season, and Tom Brady. The teams behind were almost forgotten before the showdown (9 p.m. Pro Sieben Maxx / 10:15 p.m. Sat1). Manning versus Brady, the seventeenth duel, outshines everything. On American television, the highlights of their past battles run in an endless loop, for Manning they are images from a better time.
He and Brady played in their own league for years. If one set a record, it was only a matter of time before the other broke it. They always fought for the title with their teams. Both knew that if you want to win the Super Bowl, you have to beat the other. It went on like this year after year, and it didn't change when Manning moved from the Indianapolis Colts to the Broncos. He is now 39 and has strayed further from Brady's level than ever before in his career. The aftermath of a serious neck injury, foot problems and a new game system have made him look as old on the field this year as he actually is. Statistically, he is playing the worst season since his debut in 1998, with nine touchdown passes after the end of the regular 17 interceptions, i.e. throws that land at the opponent. Two years ago Manning had set a record with 55 touchdown passes. One that will probably last a very long time.
Manning is likely to step down after the season
Unless Brady actually makes his announcement and continues playing forever. The Patriots playmaker is 38 years old, only sixteen months younger than Manning, but age just seems to bounce off him. No comparison to Manning. Brady's legs move faster than at the beginning of his career, his throw is more precise. He seems more trained, in every fiber of his body. The reason is a special fitness and nutrition program that he designed together with his personal trainers.
No quarterback has thrown more touchdown passes this season (36), no one has had fewer interceptions (7). Unlike Manning, who is very likely to step down after the season, Brady doesn't waste any thought on retiring. He and Manning are in such different shape that experts like former NFL pro Buckey Brooks are predicting a clear result: "If the Patriots don't have injury concerns, they'll tear the Broncos apart." There was no question of that in the preliminary round, Denver defeated New England 30:24 after extra time, but with quarterback Brock Osweiler, who represented the injured Manning.
In Denver there was also a debate as to whether Osweiler should start. Denver's coach Gary Kubiak made a different decision. Manning will play again on Sunday. Maybe for the last time ever.
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