If Sunday's game was in 2013 or earlier, the "Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning" headline would be an accurate one to describe the AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos.
Out of desperation as much as anything, Brady was Belichick's choice to square off against Manning, but New England was combing the waiver wire for new quarterbacks.
The everlasting image from this game is then-Broncos coach Josh McDaniels pumping his fist like a madman after the win, celebrating his first victory over his mentor, Bill Belichick, and Brady. Manning and the Denver Broncos are aiming for the franchise's first championship in 16 years and his second.
Manning no longer can engage Brady in a shootout. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning don't play against each other. "That's just Gronk", Edelman said. Gronk played solid as well, catching 7 passes for 83 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Best player • Linebacker Von Miller has recorded 25 sacks in the past two seasons and forced four fumbles this year, earning AP All-Pro honors and leading an aggressive defense.
When these teams played on a snowy Sunday night in November, the Broncos ran for 179 yards, including C.J. Anderson's 48-yard scamper that won it 30-24 in overtime. He's extremely talented. He's a very hard worker, very competitive guy and he just plays the position the right way. Nothing that's happened in the past is going to matter. "We've tried, with Gary coming in this year, to be a little more focused on the running game and get a little more balanced to help Peyton out". In his 18th season in the league, at age 39, which some believe might be his swan song, Manning threw only nine touchdown passes while tossing 17 interceptions.
He took command of the huddle and the playbook, and at one point late in the week, Faulk recalled, an offensive lineman stood up and proclaimed Brady as the Patriots' leader, if only for the moment. Denver is going for No. 8, which would put the Broncos in a tie with the Patriots and Steelers.
SB Nation's panel of "experts" favors the Patriots, with five of the eight predicting a Patriots win (and the same number predicting the Panthers to represent the NFC). Marshall complained that Gronk "pushes off" and Smith called Brady a "crybaby". I didn't think that would happen, but I mean I said what I said.
While Brady seemingly has many more chances for glory, Manning's career is clearly at its sunset. That game was also in the Mile High City, where Brady has walked off the victor in just two of his eight visits.
So it's fitting a Super Bowl berth is at stake for Brady-Manning 17. CBS Sports is broadcasting the game with the top-line duo of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms calling the game.