Bledsoe was injured in Week 2 of the 2001 season in a game against the Jets and Brady stepped to the forefront. Brady led the Patriots to a collossal upset of the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl and Brady’s legend was born. Two more championships in 2003 and 2004 as Brady’s defense made quick work of Manning’s Colts both years. Brady won his first 10 playoff games on his way to three titles in four years as a starting quarterback. Brady was untouchable, unflappable and 100 other adjectives you want to use to describe “The Golden Boy” of the NFL.
In 2006 after the Patriots upset the top-seeded Chargers and the Colts defeated No. 2 seed Baltimore, the Colts and Patriots met once again, this time in Indianapolis at the RCA Dome. Despite a 21-6 lead, aided by an Assante Samuel pick-6 of Manning, the Patriots vaunted defense didn’t get the best of Manning this time. Joseph Addai’s rushing touchdown through the center of the New England defense gave the Colts a four-point lead with 60 seconds to play. Brady’s was intercepted by Marlin Jackson to seal the win and Manning finally had his revenge.
In Miami, No. 18 finally won his first Super Bowl and it looked like it might finally be Manning’s time to start a dynasty in Indianapolis.
The Patriots had other ideas. The offseason acquisitions of All-Pro wide receiver Randy Moss and unheralded Miami receiver Wes Welker gave Brady his first tandem of top flight receivers. The Patriots ran through the NFL to a 16-0 regular season while playing through allegations related to the SpyGate scandal. What happened next nobody could have seen coming. The New England arrogance was cracked with a upset loss to Eli Manning, David Tyree and the New York Giants.
In the first game of 2008, Brady tore his ACL on a cheap shot from Kansas City safety Brandon Pollard ending any chance for New England redemption. For the first time in recent memory, Manning and Brady weren’t at the top of the NFL. Ben Roethlisberger led Pittsburgh to its second title in four years. Manning and Brady each have reached the Super Bowl in 2009 and 2011, but neither was able to add to their ring count, while Eli equaled Roethlisberger with a second championship over Brady’s Patriots in 2011.