Sept. 30, 2001: In Tom Brady's first NFL start, the Patriots faced the Colts and their fellow young quarterback Peyton Manning. The Patriots won in a 44–13 blowout though the quarterbacks did not play particularly well that day—Brady’s passer rating was 79.2 while Manning’s was just 48.2. Neither player knew at the time that they had just started what would become the greatest quarterback rivalry in NFL history.
Brady and Manning, though never in the same division, would go on to play in 17 games, four of which were AFC Championship Games. Brady won the overall series 11–6, but Manning's teams (Colts and Broncos) beat Brady’s Patriots three of four times in the postseason. They split the last 10 games.
While certainly a fiercely competitive rivalry, Manning and Brady had a shared respect. When Manning announced his retirement at the end of last year, Brady was one of the first calls he made, and he named “that handshake with Tom Brady” one of the aspects of the NFL he’ll miss most. These two will see each other again in Canton.