The 14th meeting between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, arguably the two greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, wasn't always pretty.
There were a lot of mistakes, and it's fitting that the game practically ended on a punt hitting unsuspecting Broncos cornerback Tony Carter. New England recovered the muff, and kicked the game-winning field goal two plays later.
But the 34-31 Patriots win was still pretty fun, with New England staging a great comeback, dealing Manning his first career loss when leading by 22 or more points.
Was it one of the five best Manning-Brady duels? Let's check out the top five:
5. Patriots 27, Colts 24
Sept 9, 2004
This came at the height of the Patriots' reign. New England had won 15 in a row, and got to open the season at home as defending champs. But Manning and the Colts gave them all they could handle.
Indianapolis led 17-13 at halftime, but New England came back to take the lead in the third quarter. Brady threw for 335 yards. Manning hit Brandon Stokley in the fourth quarter to cut New England's lead to three points, but Mike Vanderjagt missed a field goal in the final minute that would have tied it.
4. Patriots 34, Broncos 31 (OT)
Nov. 24, 2013
Manning is having perhaps his best season, and Brady is having perhaps his worst. Yet, after a flurry of forced fumbles gave the Broncos a 24-0 halftime lead, Brady was spectacular in leading New England back. Manning struggled most of the night with the wind and cold, but still led a game-tying drive in the fourth quarter.
The ending, on the botched punt, left something to be desired, but still an entertaining night.
3. Colts 35, Patriots 34
Nov. 15, 2009
This was the game that set off a war between numbers crunchers and old-school football fans. That's because Patriots coach Bill Belichick went for it on fourth down and 2 instead of punting from his own territory just before the two-minute warning, leading to an endless debate about the decision. The play didn't get the first down, and Manning capitalized with the game-winning touchdown.
The game was entertaining before that, however. Brady threw for 375 yards and Manning threw for 327. The Patriots had a 24-7 lead in the second half, but Manning led the Colts to three fourth-quarter touchdowns to win it. Still, all we'll remember from it is "Fourth and 2."
2. Patriots 38, Colts 34
Nov. 30, 2003
New England got out to a 17-0 lead, and led 31-10 early in the third quarter, but the Colts rallied. Manning hit Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison and Troy Walters on touchdown passes to tie the game.
Brady snatched the lead back on a touchdown pass to Deion Branch, but the Colts had a chance to win at the end. Facing a fourth and goal at the 1-yard line in the final seconds, New England's Willie McGinest stuffed Edgerrin James short of the goal line, capping off a memorable stand and giving the Patriots the win.
1. Colts 38, Patriots 34
Jan. 21, 2007 (AFC championship game)
This one seems to get lost a bit when the greatest games in NFL history are discussed. But it was as good as any.
The Colts came in looking to finally break through and get to the Super Bowl. The Patriots had already won three championships, and when they took a 21-3 lead on an Asante Samuel pick-six of Manning, it looked like they were headed back to the Super Bowl.
But Manning and the Colts kept plugging away, and got the ball back in the final minutes with a chance to win the game. Manning was masterful on Indianapolis' final drive, moving his team deep into Patriots' territory. And when the game was on the line, Manning handed off to Joseph Addai, who ran up the middle 3 yards for the game-winning score. The Colts went on to the Super Bowl and Manning won his first and still his only championship.
This was easily the best game between the two legendary quarterbacks, and one of the best in the history of the NFL.
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