Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC West [Print without images]

Friday, November 19, 2010
Brady-Manning undercard: Bradford-Ryan

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

The St. Louis Rams can only hope Sam Bradford continues on the path Matt Ryan appears to be following, one that could lead both young quarterbacks closer to the Peyton Manning-Tom Brady realm.

For now, let's put Bradford's first career matchup against Ryan on the Week 11 undercard for the main event between Peyton Manning's Indiainapolis Colts and Tom Brady's New England Patriots.

The thought occurred to me while watching Ryan lead that clutch drive for the Atlanta Falcons against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 10. Bradford followed three days later by leading the Rams' to an overtime-forcing field goal at San Francisco in the final minutes.

By then, Bradford had already joined Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Dan Marino as the only rookies with 11 touchdown passes in their first eight games.

Bradford's Rams face Ryan's Falcons at the Edward Jone Dome on Sunday while Brady's Patriots and Manning's Colts play in Foxboro.

Bradford, Manning and Ryan became starters right away as rookies. Brady walked into a more favorable situation, spending his entire rookie season and the first two games of his second season learning the New England Patriots' offense without having to start. That extra seasoning probably helped Brady posted superior numbers in his first nine NFL starts.

The chart shows stats for each quarterback after nine starts.