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Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Reflecting on Peyton & Pats

By Mike Reiss



News that the Colts and quarterback Peyton Manning will hold a Wednesday press conference to announce a parting of ways is not a surprise. Yet it's still something that resonates when it happens.

With the Manning era in Indianapolis ending, it officially closes the book on one of the greatest rivalries/quarterback duels in the history of the game: Tom Brady's Patriots vs. Manning's Colts.

Those games are one of the highlights of the last decade of Patriots football.

Brady's first career start came against the Colts in the third game of the 2001 season. Fittingly, Manning couldn't break through for his first Super Bowl championship without getting through Brady in the AFC Championship in the 2006 season.

There was the stretch where the Patriots and Bill Belichick had Manning's number. Then the time when Manning turned the tide.

Whether it was a season opener (2004), an AFC title game (2003, 2006), or the more standard early November game because networks knew it would produce big-time ratings at a key time on the calendar, Brady vs. Manning almost always lived up to its billing.

Including the playoffs, Manning played against the Patriots 19 times over his career, posting a 7-12 record. He won five of his last seven starts against New England.

Not including the 2011 season he missed because of injury, there was only one year in which Manning didn't face the Patriots -- 2002. That was the year the Colts moved out of the AFC East to join the newly formed AFC South.

We saw a lot of Manning here in New England, his duels with Brady forever to be remembered as one of the great chapters in the Patriots' sterling run of success.

Seeing him in another uniform, playing against the Patriots, just won't be the same.