While it was reported over the weekend that Tom Brady would be retiring, the man himself announced it officially Tuesday morning.
Tributes poured in since it was first reported, and Peyton Manning added his reaction on Tuesday via his Omaha Productions company.
"Congratulations to my friend Tom on an unbelievable football career," Manning wrote. "To do it as long as he did, at the highest of levels is absolutely incredible. It was an honor & a privilege to compete against him on the field, and I truly appreciate his friendship off the field. I have always admired & respected his competitiveness, his dedication, his discipline, and his commitment to being the best. I wish him the best in his next chapter. Congratulation again, pal!"
In looking back over Brady's incredible career, there are so many great games from his time in the league against the Broncos. So even were the battles that Brady finished 9-9 against Denver, including playoff games. The series included major milestones in his career, too, as his first career start came against the Broncos.
While Brady of course was often a source of anger for Broncos fans, his talent also gave them some of the greatest games in the past two decades, including these four:
2005 AFC Divisional Round: Broncos 27, Patriots 13
Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots came to town looking to mount a third straight title run, and while the game didn't boast any last-minute heroics, it did provide one of the defining moments of a Hall of Fame career when Brady decided to test Champ Bailey on an end-zone pass. Bailey stepped in front of the receiver to get the interception and then sprinted 100 yards before being tackled just shy of the end zone. The game, which was Denver's first playoff win since Super Bowl XXXIII, would be the first of four postseason battles between Brady and the Broncos.
Week 12, 2013: Patriots 34, Broncos 31 (OT)
It pains us, of course, to highlight a loss, but that's just how great this game was. The Manning-Brady rivalry had restarted a year earlier during Manning's first season in Denver, but this game was one of the best of the 17 games they played against one another, as it was the only one to go to overtime. Manning threw for two touchdowns while Brady threw for three, Von Miller returned a fumble for a touchdown and Knowshon Moreno ran for more than 200 yards. It was an epic "Sunday Night Football" duel, and while Denver didn't come away with the win, the Broncos would get revenge in the AFC Championship.
Week 12, 2015: Broncos 30, Patriots 24 (OT)
Two seasons later, the Broncos were without Manning as he recovered from a foot injury, but the two teams put on a show anyway. Brady and the Pats jumped out to a 21-7 fourth-quarter lead, but the Broncos rushed back to score 17 unanswered points. With about a minute left in regulation, Brady marched New England down the field against Denver's top-ranked defense to put them in range for the game-tying 47-yard field goal to send the game in overtime. Then, Denver forced a three-and-out against the Patriots and got the ball back not far from midfield, setting up C.J. Anderson for the memorable 48-yard touchdown to win the game in the snow.
2015 AFC Championship Game: Broncos 20, Patriots 18
Manning and Brady later spoke of this game's spot among their favorites during an episode of "Peyton's Places," and still stands as one of the most exciting AFC Championships in recent memory. Manning threw two first-half touchdowns as Denver built an eight-point halftime lead that remained intact well into the fourth-quarter. But as was always the case with a Brady-led team, you could never count him out, even after a drive ended with a turnover on downs with just a little over two minutes to go. New England got the ball back about 30 seconds later, and Brady marched the Patriots to a touchdown in just eight plays. The game hinged on the two-point conversion attempt, though, and Denver forced an interception to clinch the win and give Manning the opportunity to end his career with a Super Bowl win.
Below the Fold
Fresh off his "Saturday Night Live" appearance, former Broncos great Peyton Manning continued his late-night TV run on Monday by hopping on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" to chat with the comedian.
In that "SNL" skit, Manning joined Colin Jost on "Weekend Update" to share his reaction to a wild weekend of Divisional Round games — only to reveal that he had been too hooked on "Emily in Paris," a romantic comedy series on Netflix, to watch any of the games.
The bit was a good one, though Manning admitted to Fallon that he's never seen an episode.
"I have never seen an episode of Emily in Paris," Manning said. "Not sure if I'm going to in the future. I feel like I know so much about it now, Jimmy, but I think I'm going to be asked to be in Season 3, like a big part."
Later, as Fallon wraps up the interview, he asks Manning for a quick reaction to the Super Bowl matchup between the Rams and Bengals. Manning, of course, limits his scope to the quarterbacks.
"I'm so pumped for these quarterbacks," Manning said. "Matthew Stafford — 13 years, right? He's been taking a lot of heat. Can he win the big one? and all that. I'm so glad he's there. And Joe Burrow is just Mr. Cool. To be in a Super Bowl, his first Super Bowl, so early in his career. Both these guys will handle the moment. Obviously one of them's gonna come away a winner. I've been on both sides of it. There's no feeling like it to win it, Jimmy. It's as disappointing as you think it'd be not to win it. So I'm pulling for both quarterbacks. It's going to be a great game, without a doubt."