THE SECRET is already out regarding which quarterback--Tom Brady or Peyton Manning--I rank higher. All you have to do is buy the new SPORTS ILLUSTRATED hardcover publication The Football Book, in which I pick NFL all-decade teams. I've got Brady No. 1 and Manning No. 2 on my three-deep All-2000s squad.
They are the two passers in this era best suited to suddenly take over a game and dominate. An argument could be made for Brett Favre (my No. 3 on the All-2000s), but in recent years, as his game has gotten wilder and his team has gone from contender to struggler, Favre hasn't taken control the way Brady and Manning have.
Brady gets my vote over Manning because his greatest performances have come when the stakes were highest. That's true of all the great ones--John Unitas, Joe Montana, John Elway--and Brady even tops those guys with this: In nine starts he has never lost a postseason game. Despite Manning's fancy numbers--most TD passes and highest rating in a single season--he has never led his team to victory over Brady's Patriots.
Manning can bring a team back, and he has done it many times; he just hasn't done it in the same situations that Brady has.
TALE OF THE TAPE
|HEIGHT, WEIGHT||6'5", 230||6'4", 225|
|DRAFTED||1998 First overall (Tennessee)||2000 Sixth round (Michigan)|
|PASSING YARDS PER GAME||260.4||231.1|
|TOUCHDOWN PASSES PER GAME||1.91||1.49|
|YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT||7.59||7.03|
|PASS ATTEMPTS PER INTERCEPTION||32.7||40.5|
|CAREER PASSER RATING||92.6||88.1|
|RED ZONE PASSER RATING||92.6||97.7|
|THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION PCT.||41.1||40.0|
|FOURTH-DOWN CONVERSION PCT.||40.1||33.0|
|PERCENTAGE OF DRIVES RESULTING IN A SCORE||39.5||34.0|
|TOP TARGET (RECS. PER GAME)||Marvin Harrison (6.3)||Troy Brown (3.7)|
|WINS AFTER TRAILING IN THE FOURTH QUARTER||19||10|
|REGULAR-SEASON RECORD||73-46 (.613)||52-17 (.753)|