words // Brandon Richard
With all due respect to the Steelers and Ravens, Seahawks and 49ers and Cowboys and Redskins, the NFL’s best rivalry for the decade may very well be Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. The two best quarterbacks of their era squared off for the 14th time, Brady’s New England Patriots having won 9 of the previous 13.
In the first half, it appeared the night would belong to Peyton and the Denver Broncos. Behind a balanced attack that included a 60-yard Von Miller fumble return for a touchdown, a Knowshon Moreno touchdown run and Jacob Tamme touchdown reception, the Broncos controlled the game 24-0 at halftime. Then things took a drastic turn.
The Patriots stormed back in the third quarter, outscoring Denver 21-0 with Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski touchdown receptions, as well as a 1-yard punch in by Brandon Bolden. New England took the lead early in the fourth when Brady connected with Edelman again and pushed the lead to 31-24 after a Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
Providing more drama in the Brady vs. Manning series, Denver tied the game at 31 with about 3:00 left in regulation after Peyton found Demaryius Thomas for an 11-yard touchdown. After the Patriots failed to score on the next possession, the game went into overtime.
Looking like Denver would get one last shot at a win with about 3:00 to play, Tony Carter muffed a punt, which was recovered by the Patriots at the Denver 13. Gostkowski then nailed a 31-yard field goal to shut the door on another classic chapter of Brady vs. Manning. The series now stands at a pretty lopsided 10-4 in favor of Brady.
In other Week 12 action, the New Orleans Saints maintained control of the NFC South after winning their Thursday night rivalry game over the Atlanta Falcons; the Pittsburgh Steelers resurrected their playoff hopes with a win in Cleveland; Minnesota and Bay played to a tie at Lambeau; the Jacksonville Jaguars picked up their second win of the season in Houston; San Diego handed Kansas City their second-straight loss; Cam Newton sparked a fourth quarter rally in the Panthers’ win over the Dolphins; the Dallas Cowboys kept pace in the NFC East after topping the Giants; and the San Francisco 49ers picked up an important win against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night.
Tom Brady – Custom Under Armour Football Cleats
Julian Edelman – Nike Lunar Superbad Pro
Kenny Stills – Under Armour Nitro Diablo
Jacoby Jones – Nike Zoom Vapor Carbon Fly
Lawrence Timmons – adidas adizero 5-Star
Tiquan Underwood – Nike Zoom Vapor Carbon Fly
Adrian Peterson – Nike Super Speed 3/4
Eddie Lacy – Under Armour Highlight MC
Maurice Jones-Drew – Nike Lunar Superbad Pro
Ryan Mathews – Under Armour Cam Highlight MC
Cam Newton – Under Armour Highlight ’14
Benny Cunningham – Nike Alpha Pro
Andre Roberts – Under Armour Nitro Diablo
Kendall Wright – adidas adizero 5-Star
Dez Bryant – Air Jordan 12 PE Cleats
Anquan Boldin – Nike Super Speed
images via Yahoo / Getty Images (Al Bello, Robb Carr, Kevin C. Cox, Jonathan Daniel, Mike Ehrmann, Jason Miller, Christian Peterson, Jim Rogash, Gregory Shamus, Jamie Squire, Jason O. Watson, Jared Wickherham) / USA Today (Thomas Campbell, Jeff Curry, Mitch Stringer)