(Reuters) - Two of the mosts successful quarterbacks of all-time face each other when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots host Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos on Sunday but the clash is all about the present.
While both have already secured places in the Pro Football Hall of Fame their recent form suggests they have plenty of fight left. The way they are plyaing, the duo could very well face each other in an AFC playoff battle in January.
Both have reached key milestones this season as Brady topped 50,000 career passing yards, putting him sixth on the all-time list, while Manning broke Brett Favre’s record of 508 career touchdown passes.
Questions early in the season about whether Brady was fading have quietened in recent weeks as he has thrown 12 touchdowns in his last three games while Manning has 22 touchdowns and 2,134 yards in his team’s seven games this season.
The Patriots (6-2) are in charge of the AFC East with a while Denver (6-1) head the AFC West.
For New England head coach Bill Belichick, facing Manning has been a regular challenge, given the Patriots frequently faced Manning’s former team, the Indianapolis Colts, and he has no doubt where he would rank the quarterback.
“Peyton does a great job of getting the ball to the weakest point of the defense, whatever defense happens to be. He’s great. Obviously he’s a great quarterback – best quarterback I’ve coached against. He does a tremendous job,” said Belichick.
“He’s just good at everything. I see no weaknesses in his game.”
For Brady, 37, what stands out about Manning’s play is his ability to deliver top-class performances on a regular basis.
“Every week, it’s so consistent – you just count on a great performance from him every week. I think that’s something that I have a lot of respect for. It’s not an easy thing to do,” said Brady, who holds a 10-5 edge in head-to-head meetings with Manning.
“There are a lot of people who have played that don’t do it on a consistent basis ... I understand what it takes, and it’s not just a daily commitment -- it’s a life commitment.”
Manning, 38, who has defied many predictions that his career was over after a neck injury forced him to miss the entire 2011 season, says Brady’s resilience has been a notable feature of his career.
“Certainly, I think a quarterback’s job first and foremost is to be out there,” Manning said during a conference call on Wednesday. “One of his real strengths is always answering the bell.”
Reporting by Simon Evans in Miami; Editing by Frank Pingue