Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning was a matchup we all looked forward to seeing. Brady and Manning gave us one of the best NFL rivalries ever.
NFL rivalries are the best type of rivalry games across all the sports. Yes, I said it. NFL rivalries hold a certain dramatic element to them that other sports can’t compete with.
Of course, these don’t have to always be team rivalries. Some of the greatest rivalries in the NFL this past decade have mostly been player based. However, that doesn’t take away from them at all. In fact, the player rivalries essentially expand to full-fledged team rivalries.
Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning and by extension the Patriots vs. the Colts/Broncos comes to mind immediately. But, what about the other ones? The 2010’s were full of exciting matchups between teams and players, and here are the best rivalries ranked from the last decade.
Counting down The Top 10 @TomBrady vs. Peyton Manning games!
Who will get the W today on the golf course? ⛳️ pic.twitter.com/TxSXsYO4Oo
— NFL (@NFL) May 24, 2020
NFL Rivalries Ranked Including Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning:
1. Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning: A Matchup of Legendary Quarterbacks – 2010-2016
We had to start this list off with the two greatest quarterbacks of the 2010’s going at it. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning shared some epic battles.
In 2010, these two shared an incredible matchup that went right down to the wire. The New England Patriots would hold off the Indianapolis Colts 31-28, but this was a classic Brady-Manning game all the way through.
After, Manning joined Denver, the rivalry only intensified. One of the most memorable games during those days was a Week 12 matchup in 2013. Manning and the Broncos looked to be running away with the game as they built up a 24-0 lead before halftime.
However, Brady turned in one of his classic comebacks as the Patriots stormed back to tie the game at 31 a piece. The Pats got the final laugh in OT when Gostkowski nailed the game winning field goal. Brady threw for a massive 344 yards in the game.
However, Manning would go on to his revenge in 2014. In the AFC Championship Game, Manning threw for 400 yards as the Broncos shut down the Pats and Tom Brady 26-16. Manning wasn’t done, however. In 2016, he would best Brady again in the Championship game in a tightly contested 20-18 victory.
The two legendary quarterbacks matched up a total of six times from 2010-2016 with Tom Brady winning four of the matchups while Manning won the other two. However, Manning’s victories were ultimately more significant since they came during the AFC Championship games.
This is a quarterback rivalry that has sprawled across the entirety of the 2000’s in fact, and it’s one that we’ll never forget. Any time these two QB’s had a game scheduled against each other, you knew it was going to be a treat.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens: The Rivalry That Defined Violence – 2010-2019
When I got here, it was just, ‘you don’t like Baltimore’. – Steelers Safety, Mike Mitchell, 2014
This rivalry may not be what it once was with the brutal hits and crushing blows, but it is still, no-doubt, the league’s best team rivalry. No other rivalry is as strong as this one in the current day, and in the 2010’s, we saw these teams absolutely tear into each other.
Troy Polamalu. Ed Reed. Ben Roethlisberger. Joe Flacco. Terrell Suggs. James Harrison. Antonio Brown. Anquan Boldin. Ray Rice. Haloti Ngata. Cameron Heyward. Lawrence Timmons.
The list goes on and on with legendary names in this rivalry. For both these teams, the result of the game meant more than a number in the wins-loss column. It meant pride and honor. These players would no doubt kill each other on the field if they could.
Unlike Brady and Manning, these two teams did not like each other off the field. While Brady and Manning built an admirable friendship off the field, these teams were far from it.
These two teams have ruled the NFC North over the 2010’s with the teams winning a combined 8 out of 10 division titles from 2010 to 2019. Needless to say, they matched up quite a bit over the course of those ten years.
The Ravens own the advantage in the 2010’s with a 13-9 record over their foes in the regular season. The two teams also met up twice in the playoffs, splitting the contests.
The best game of this rivalry, arguably, came in 2016 on Christmas Day. The matchup was everything you could want from a Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh game. High stakes? Check. A Steelers win would eliminate the Ravens and crush their playoff hopes while a Ravens win would leave the door to the AFC North crown wide open.
The Steelers seemingly had the game in the bag after going up 20-10. However, the Ravens were not to be turned down. They chipped away at the Steelers’ lead, and suddenly, with just 1:18 to play, they had the lead.
Close game? Also check. Not to be outdone, Roethlisberger would find Antonio Brown in the end-zone with only 14 seconds left in a classic highlight that soon became known as the “Immaculate Extension.”
— That Blitz Guy ✨ (@ThatBlitzGuy) December 26, 2020
The Ravens playoffs hopes were dashed, and the Steelers reigned superior as AFC North champs. The rivalry still exists as the Steelers and Ravens are still top dogs in the AFC North. However, it has lost some of the appeal it had back in the day, where you’d see some of the most violent and physical games ever.
3. Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers: The Richard Sherman & Michael Crabtree Chronicles – 2012-2014
We don’t like them, they don’t like us. I don’t have a magic answer for why it’s so intense, it just is. It’s a physical game every time we play, and there’s just a lot of bad blood there. – Joe Staley, 49ers left tackle in 2014
That quote basically sums up the 49ers and Seahawks rivalry in the 2010’s. In 2014, that quote came before the peak of the rivalry: the 2013-14 NFC Championship Game.
This 2013-14 NFC Championship game was a culmination of all the hatred, all the ego, and all the pride that existed on both sides. The 2013 NFC Championship Game was no accident, it was destiny. Any other matchup that year would have felt wrong as the NFL world would have felt cheated out of getting the final installment of the league’s best inter-division rivalry.
This wasn’t just a numbers game. Both teams were built so similarly that it almost felt like you were watching a mirror image of one team whenever they faced off.
The 49ers employed Colin Kaepernick at quarterback, who, just like Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson was mobile and dangerous in the running game.
Seattle would boast their Legion of Boom defense which fielded Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Bobby Wagner, and Earl Thomas to name a few. However, the 49ers were no slouches on that side of the ball either. Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman formed a lethal linebacking duo. Aldon Smith, Justin Smith, and Ahmad Brooks formed an intimidating pass rushing group and Eric Reid was nothing short of a ballhawk.
Add in the fact that both teams featured downhill, grind-it-out running backs in Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch, and you can see how similar these teams were.
That Championship Game lives on history. A defensive masterpiece that ended in a 23-17 Seahawks win gave us one of the best post-game interviews ever:
“WHEN YOU TRY ME WITH A SORRY RECEIVER LIKE CRABTREE, THAT’S THE RESULT YOU GONNA GET!”
Six years ago today, Richard Sherman let Michael Crabtree know he was not the one to be tested 🙅♂️
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 19, 2020
That doesn’t happen if this wasn’t a worthy rivalry. The fans were also always involved. After Bowman suffered an injury in the Championship Game, Seahawks fan threw popcorn at him as he was carted off the field.
All in all, between 2012 and 2014 the 49ers and Seahawks would face off 5 times with the Seahawks winning three games while the Niners took the other two.