NEW YORK: Tom Brady believes the New England Patriots will need to deliver a complete performance if they are to overcome Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
Patriots quarterback Brady faces off against Manning on Sunday in the 17th installment of one of the greatest rivalries of American sport, with the winner advancing to Super Bowl 50 on February 7.
But while the American Football Conference championship decider has been billed as a duel between the two greatest quarterbacks of their generation, Brady said Wednesday the game will be decided by a collective effort.
“It’s going to take all three phases,” Brady told reporters. “I hope I play my best possible game, I hope our defense plays the best possible game.
“We can’t just play well offensively and expect to win—we’re going to need the entire team to play well.”
Brady leads 11-5 in games against Manning. In four playoff encounters, the series is 2-2.
Brady played down suggestions that his history with Manning echoed other iconic sporting rivalries, such as Magic Johnson’s battles with Larry Bird during the 1980s.
“I wouldn’t compare it to any of those rivalries but I think playing someone 17 times is pretty cool,” Brady said of Manning.
“Especially someone as great as him. To play against those Peyton Manning-led teams you know you’ve got to play 60 minutes and you’re going to be in for a tough game.
“His consistency, durability, his ability to always seem to come through. He’s just been an incredible player, an incredible leader for his team,” Brady said.
“Every team he’s been a part of they’ve won.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick meanwhile said there would be no danger of his side understimating the threat posed by Manning, who has often struggled to find his best form this season at the age of 39.
“Peyton’s a great player and we’ve had tremendous battles against him over the years,” Belichick said.
“There’s not a player off our team that I have greater respect for than Peyton Manning. His preparation, his consistency, his skills — I would never ever, ever underestimate him under any circumstances.”