ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Manning vs. Brady.
A four-time NFL MVP vs. a three-time Super Bowl champion.
The two players have 26 years of NFL experience, nearly 100,000 passing yards and 714 passing touchdowns between them.
"To be able to do that, to play at the level they’ve played at for as long as they’ve done it, it’s impressive," wide receiver
Sunday's Broncos-Patriots clash will mark the 13th time the two quarterbacks have squared off, including the postseason, and the first game in NFL history featuring opposing quarterbacks with 300 or more touchdown passes each. It comes at a pivotal time for both squads.
“This game is enough to get everybody motivated, everybody focused," quarterback
From 2001 to 2010, Manning faced off against Tom Brady's Patriots 12 times, including three times in the AFC playoffs.
The two have had some memorable matchups, and Manning has won four of the last six meetings.
This Sunday, the circumstances have changed, but the hype surrounding the battle of arguably the top two quarterbacks of their generation will still be at an all-time high.
"We’ve had our fair share of meaningful games against a Peyton Manning-led offense when he was with the Colts," Brady said on a conference call Wednesday. "He seems like he’s got this team really in the hunt as well. They lost two very close games and were in it right until the end. He’s a phenomenal player, leader and quarterback and it’s great watching him play out there.”
Both teams enter the game at 2-2. New England is tied atop the AFC East, while the Broncos trail the 3-1 San Diego Chargers in the AFC West.
Manning stressed the importance of the game for both teams, not just both quarterbacks.
"It’s well-documented, my thoughts on Tom Brady and the type of player that he is, but this game -- I know it’s a boring, boring answer for you all -- but this is the Broncos versus the Patriots," he said. "It’s two 2-2 teams. A pivotal game at a pivotal time in the season."
Head Coach John Fox said he has studied up on a few Colts-Patriots games to see how New England likes to defend Manning, but "nothing stays the same."
Along those lines, Manning acknowledged that there have been "some great games" between his teams and Brady's teams throughout the years, but entering Sunday, they don't mean a whole lot.
"This is a new team that I’m playing with, so I think sometimes getting into the comparisons and going back to years past, I don’t know how valuable a time that is to discuss that," he said. "This is an important week of practice for us. Coming off a win, I thought we played with a sense of urgency last week coming after a loss, we need to do it again coming after a win. I think that’s important this week.”
There is one thing that hasn't changed from Manning's early battles with Brady to Sunday -- the Patriots are always a threat to light up a scoreboard. Take last week's 52-point Patriots explosion as proof.
"I guess what I’ve always known playing against offenses like the one that he leads is that you better be on your job," Manning said. "You better be prepared to score touchdowns in the red zone, convert on third down, because they’re capable of scoring points."
So while some will still label Sunday's game as Manning-Brady XIII, the veteran signal caller said "we all know it's a team game."
And Fox had no doubt that both teams will be ready.
"We’ll be excited," Fox said. "I’m sure they’re going to do a great job in their game planning, and I can assure you we will, too.”