(Reuters) - New England quarterback Tom Brady is looking forward to Sunday’s AFC Championship game versus the Denver Broncos and rival Peyton Manning as much as any NFL fan, saying a Patriots win would rank with any he has experienced.
“It would be as satisfying as any victory we’ve ever had if we could go in there and win,” three-time Super Bowl winner Brady told Boston’s WEEI radio on Monday.
“We’ve overcome a lot of things with some injuries. We’ve had some amazing comebacks ... it’s everything you could ask for.”
It will be the 15th installment of the rivalry between the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
Brady holds a 10-4 advantage in their head-to-head meetings, and a 2-1 edge in postseason showdowns, but Manning might be holding the winning hand this time.
Manning, 37, has enjoyed a record-setting season with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 passing yards, throwing to a talented crop of receivers on the AFC’s top-seeded team.
By contrast, the Patriots have had to battle through a slew of injuries, including the loss of standout tight end Rob Gronkowski. But despite working in new players, Brady has thrown for 4,343 yards with 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while relying more on his running game.
Brady and the Patriots overcame a 24-point halftime deficit against the visiting Broncos to prevail in their regular season contest last November.
Manning, a four-time NFL most valuable player, has won one Super Bowl and is two seasons removed from missing a year due to neck surgeries, has no shortage of motivation for the AFC title tilt against Brady, who would never underestimate his old rival.
“He’s got great command of the offense,” he said. “He can pretty much do whatever he wants. He obviously has a lot of confidence in what he’s doing and he has confidence in the guys around him.”
Brady said the Patriots relish the role of underdogs.
“I’m sure no one’s going to pick us to win this week. We’ve had our backs against the wall for a while,” he said. “Really the whole season we’ve lost players and teams have really counted us out.
“We’ve got a bunch of underdogs on our team, and we’ll be an underdog again. But I know that we’re as tough and physical as we’ve ever been, and that’s the way we’re going to need to go out and play this game.”
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue