The long-running rivalry between the Patriots and Colts was always defined by the quarterbacks.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were the two best signal-callers of their generation and every time they faced off in the playoffs they wrote another chapter in their legacies.
Even though Manning’s gone, the matchup is still a showcase of two of the game’s best quarterbacks. Brady’s status is already cemented, but Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is now carving out a spot for himself among the league’s elite.
Brady vs. Luck is now the high-wattage matchup, but Luck isn’t getting caught up in the lights.
“In my mind, that’s not a benchmark, I guess,” Luck said. “It’s about the Colts hopefully beating the Patriots. It is a team game. I’ve never viewed it as quarterback vs. quarterback. Obviously, he’s a stud and I have the utmost respect for what he does, what he’s done, what he still does. Great role model for any quarterback and any level, playing the position. But it’s a team game.”
For the third straight season since coming into the league, Luck’s led the Colts to the playoffs and each season he’s advanced his team a round deeper.
A year ago, Brady and the Patriots ended the Colts’ season in the divisional round. Luck came back this season and threw a league-high 40 touchdowns.
To an extent, Luck relished the chance to face Brady again with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
“I think there’s a competitive spirit in all of us that says, ‘Hey, the harder it is, the better. Let’s go make it happen,’” Luck said. “But we’re just excited to play a really good Patriots team on the road. Maybe there’s a little extra excitement because of that, but to be in the AFC championship, that’s great. We’ve got to go out and win.”