Roy Ben-Joseph Journal Staff
Rivalry might be the best thing about sports; the passion, the competitiveness and the desire to win. Rivalry in sports could be based upon ideology, mutual history or political views of both fan bases. It might also exist as a result of one side being a great success, while the other a constant failure.
That is not the case though in the great rivalry of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. This rivalry is simply because both are the best at what they do, arguably of all time and most certainly in their generation. But who is the greatest of all time? This kind of question, my dear friends, is what creates rivalries, and this one has been going on since 2001.
Let’s look at the numbers. Tom Brady beat Peyton Manning on Sunday night. Why does this line sound so familiar? It does because on Sunday Tom Brady and the New-England Patriots beat the Denver Broncos 31-21, making it the ninth time Brady has been the winner against Manning in 13 meetings between the marquees quarterbacks. This year’s meeting, however, featured a major change. Manning, who was as recognized in the Indianapolis Colts uniform in the last 13 years as Joe Montana was with the San-Francisco 49ers logo, has a new team this year. The future Hall of Famer has joined the Denver Broncos in one of the most discussed topics of the off-season. The two future Hall of Fame Quarterbacks entered the 13th meeting of all time with Brady leading in the win column with an 8-4 record.
Although the meeting between the two had been the main discussion of Week Five throughout the NFL, it is safe to say that running back Stevan Ridley stole the stage. The second year RB out of Louisiana State University ran for 151 yards and 1 TD, making it the second game in a row he had 100+ rushing yards. The Patriots overall had 251 rushing yards and it marked the first time in more than 30 years that the Patriots had back to back games with 200+ yards on the ground.
But Brady wasn’t absent from the show. On the second possession for the Patriots he threw an eight yard Touchdown pass to Wes Welker, putting the Patriots on top 7-0. Overall, Brady completed 23 out of 31 pass attempts for 74 percent completion and had 223 passing yards with one touchdown pass and another one yard touchdown run which Brady scored on a quarterback sneak. He was sacked four times with no turnovers. Brady was also big on third downs, converting three crucial third and long after penalties, which extended the Patriots possessions and kept Manning out of the game.
Manning, on the other hand, threw for three TDs, completing 31 out of 44 pass attempts for 70 percent completion and 345 yards. Manning was sacked two times, one of which caused a crucial turnover that led to a scoring play by Brady and the Patriots. The Patriots defense was able to stop Manning on a critical fourth down and two, which gave the Patriots their last possession.
Overall, the Patriots combined for 474 offensive yards against 415 yards for the Broncos, Manning, who underwent four neck surgeries last year which caused him to miss the entire 2011 season, looked very sharp on his throws. He also featured his famous no-huddle offense, and was very good in calling plays in the line of scrimmage. But once again, despite all Manning’s achievements throughout his career, he lacks success against Tom Brady and the New-England Patriots.
The other big story from Week Five was the New York Jets, who are coming off one of the worst games in franchise history after being shut out by the San-Francisco 49ers in a 34-0 loss. Quarterback Mark Sanchez entered 2012 with a huge chip on his shoulders. In 2011 Sanchez threw more interceptions than TD passes, completing less than 46 percent of his passes, leading the Jets to an 8-8 record and missing the playoffs. But the real chip on his shoulder is Tim Tebow. The former Bronco was traded to the Jets due to the acquisition of Peyton Manning by the Broncos in the off-season. Let’s not forget that Tebow’s passer ratings last season were as bad as those of Sanchez. But Tebow’s famous running game compensated for those liabilities, and Tebow had a 7-4 record with Denver as a starter, leading them to the playoffs. Head coach Rex Ryan’s insistence on Sanchez has started to upset the most patient Jets fans. Ryan, who is known for his arrogant and impulsive style, mentioned after Week One that he has the best football team in America, something he has consistently said since last season’s failures. He is looking more and more like someone who is losing his fan base and any connection with reality. With Jets fans cheering during the Monday Night Football game against the Texans when Sanchez (one TD, two interceptions, 45 percent completion) left the field and was replaced by Tebow, it is not going to shock anyone if Tim Tebow starts a full game soon. But with the stubbornness of Coach Ryan and his “unique” coaching style, it is not going to shock anyone if “Tebowmania” does not hit New York anytime soon, and Mark Sanchez will continue to enjoy endless credit as the Jets continue to look like the most pathetic show in the NFL.