In the three playoff meetings between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, it’s always been the home team that came through. Twice for the New England Patriots, once for the Indianapolis Colts. The Denver Broncos host yet another epic showdown between the two great quarterbacks.
It’s worth mentioning that in each season Brady and Manning’s teams met in the postseason, the winner also went on to win the Super Bowl.
January 18, 2004, AFC Championship game: The New England Patriots were the best team in the NFL, finishing with a 14-2 record. They just got through a very tough game against the Tennessee Titans (17-14). The Indianapolis Colts were a good team with Peyton Manning, but that year was the first time they really stood out, finishing at 12-4, beating the Broncos and the Chiefs en route to the showdown. The Patriots weren’t about Brady back then. Not a pretty team to watch, but deadly efficient, and great on defense. They were up 15-0 when the Colts got their first points in the icy Foxborough afternoon, eventually losing 24-14. The Colts had a chance with one final drive to tie the game when it was still 21-14, but the Patriots forced Manning to four consecutive incompletions and added a field goal to win the game.
January 16, 2005, AFC Divisional Playoffs: Not very close this time, with the Patriots winning at home, in the snow, 20-3. It was about kicks early on before the Patriots took advantage of the Colts’ offense failing time after time. Manning didn’t throw any touchdown passes (one interception) and the Colts were held to only 276 yards, not to mention only 21:26 time of possession. The Patriots chewed up most of the clock in the second half with two long drives of 87 and 94 yards, scoring touchdowns on both.
January 21, 2007, AFC Championship Game: The Colts were the better team, and finally had the Patriots at home in the RCA Dome, with no cold weather to get in the way. That didn’t stop the Patriots to overwhelm and silence the home fans with a 21-3 lead during the first half. The 18-point comeback was the largest ever in an NFL conference championship game, and tied the record for the fourth largest NFL postseason comeback. The Colts grabbed the lead for the first time with only one minute left in the game thanks to Joseph Addai running for a touchdown, in a drive that saw Manning lead the Colts 70 yards in 19 seconds (thanks to a penalty as well). Brady and the Patriots had time for one final drive, but he was intercepted with 17 seconds left in the game as the Colts won 38-34.