By Gregory Hunt
Sunday's AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos will be the 17th time that New England quarterback Tom Brady and Denver quarterback Peyton Manning have faced each other in a game. Brady leads the series 11-5, but the pair are tied 2-2 in four meetings that have occurred in the postseason. At a press conference on Wednesday, Brady took some time to acknowledge the historical significance of the rivalry.
Brady, Belichick discuss Manning
"I wouldn't compare it to [other historical] rivalries, but I think playing someone 17 times is pretty cool, especially someone as great as him," said Brady. "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."
Manning's effectiveness has been hampered this season by a partially torn plantar fascia, but Brady still feels Manning can be dangerous.
"He's a great passer. He's so accurate, he throws it on time, he knows where everybody on the field is, offensively, defensively," said Brady. "He knows how to look defenders off, put the ball in the right location so his guys can catch and run with it. I think he's just a great pocket passer and he's incredibly accurate, throws on time. He's been a remarkable player."
New England head coach Bill Belichick also had some praise for Manning on Wednesday.
"Peyton is a great player," said Belichick. "We've had tremendous battles against him through the years. There isn't a player off our team that I have any more respect for than Peyton Manning. His preparation, his consistency, his skills; I would never, ever, ever underestimate him under any circumstances."
Mayo placed on injured reserve
A first-round playoff bye allowed a banged-up Patriots squad to heal up for a championship run, but now they've lost another key player as linebacker Jerod Mayo was placed on the injured reserve list Tuesday due to a shoulder injury. The eighth-year player suffered the injury during the third quarter of New England's 27-20 Divisional Playoff win at Gillette Stadium over the Kansas City Chiefs last Saturday.
It's the third season in a row that Mayo has ended the season on injured reserve. In 2014, it was due to a torn patellar tendon suffered in a Week 6 game against the Buffalo Bills. In 2013, it was because of a tore pectoral muscle suffered in a Week 6 game against the New Orleans Saints. When he last finished a season healthy in 2012, he was selected to the Pro Bowl.
Injured Jones spotted at practice
Like Mayo, defensive end Chandler Jones was injured in the second half against the Chiefs and did not return to the game. Jones recorded a sack and a forced fumble before appearing to suffer a right leg injury late in the fourth quarter. However, his status for the AFC Championship Game appears good, as he participated in practice on Wednesday, albeit on a limited basis. Overall, 14 players were limited at practice on Wednesday. The only player on the active roster that did not practice was special teams maven Matthew Slater, who is dealing with a shin injury.
Gregory Hunt is a Boston native and a life-long fan of the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics. He's also particularly fond of lacrosse, IndyCar racing and women's college basketball. He currently works for Examiner.com where he serves as the Senior Manager of Content and Media Access. He also writes for Examiner.com as the New England Patriots Examiner. His work can be found on aExaminer.com.
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