Over the course of his 18-year career, quarterback Peyton Manning faced a New England Patriots team coached by Bill Belichick on 20 occasions, developing into one of the most intriguing match-ups on a near-annual basis on the NFL’s calendar.
The reverence between Manning and Belichick has become apparent. When reached while traveling on Sunday hours after news of Manning’s decision to retire, Belichick said: “It is with great admiration that I congratulate Peyton Manning for his tremendous career in the National Football League. Peyton raised the bar as a performer and as a competitor and with a personal class in which he carried himself off the field. My relationship with Peyton is special, it is unique and it is one that I value greatly. For 18 years, we battled fiercely but regardless of each game's outcome, I always walked off the field with the utmost appreciation for the highest level of competition in which those games were prepared for and played. Peyton's immense contributions to the game reflect how genuinely passionate he is about it. I can honestly say that I never 'enjoyed' our meetings, but the respect I have for Peyton Manning as a competitor was, and will likely remain, second to none."
Manning foreshadowed the possibility of retirement following the final game in which Manning played against a team Belichick coached.
“Hey, listen, this might be my last rodeo. So, it sure has been a pleasure,” Manning said to Belichick moments after the 2016 AFC championship.
Belichick's teams won 12 of the 20 games against Manning.
Manning, who spent the 14 seasons of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, faced off against the Patriots in every season except for 2002 and again in 2011, when he missed the season with a neck injury. The in-game matchup between the future Hall of Fame quarterback and mastermind coach was among the notable storylines each time the two teams faced.