FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Tom Brady missed nearly an entire season with torn knee ligaments. Peyton Manning was sidelined all last season by neck surgery and nerve damage that weakened his throwing arm.
That might have been the beginning of the end for lesser quarterbacks.
Not for Brady and Manning, winners of four Super Bowls and six MVP awards between them.
They will renew their long-running competition today one week after their outstanding performances in the latest of their many victories. Brady's only team, the New England Patriots, will host Manning's new team, the Denver Broncos. Both are 2-2.
"You're looking at two of the best quarterbacks to play over the last decade," Denver coach John Fox said. "Without a doubt, when their careers are over - hopefully not any time soon for either one of them - they'll be first-ballot Hall of Fame players."
Brady, 35, has said he wants to play into his 40s. Manning, 36, hasn't been as specific but shows no signs of wanting to stop.
Not long ago, though, Manning's future was cloudy. On Sept. 8, 2011 he underwent spinal fusion surgery, the fourth operation on his neck in 19 months.
"I certainly didn't need a year off to re-emphasize how much I enjoy playing," Manning said.
And he's playing very well after leaving the Colts as a free agent.
In last Sunday's 37-6 win over the Oakland Raiders, Manning completed 30 of 38 passes for 338 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. For the season, he's connected on 64.7 percent of his passes for 1,162 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions.
Brady also is coming off his best game of the season. He directed the Patriots to touchdowns on six consecutive second-half possessions in a 52-28 rout of the Buffalo Bills and finished 22 of 36 for 340 yards with a season-high three touchdowns and no interceptions.
• What: Broncos at Patriots, 1:25 p.m., Ch 13
• The line: Patriots by 6 1/2
• Record vs. spread: Denver 2-2; New England 3-1
• Series: Broncos lead 27-18
• Notable: Denver has outscored opponents in fourth quarter by league-high 45 points. New England scored 31 against Buffalo in fourth quarter last Sunday. ... Tom Brady and Peyton Manning meet for 13th time and first since Manning joined Broncos. Brady has won eight of 12 meetings. ... Last season, Patriots beat Broncos 41-23 in December and 45-10 in the playoffs.