By Larry Fine
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Reuters) – Big brother got the better of little brother in what may have been their last showdown as Peyton Manning steered the Denver Broncos to a 41-23 pounding of Eli Manning and the New York Giants on Sunday.
Peyton improved his head-to-head record against Eli in the National Football League to 3-0 in the so-called ‘Manning Bowl’ staged at MetLife Stadium.
“It’s a strange situation,” Peyton said about competing against Eli, his junior by five years. “Yeah, it’s strange circumstances. Good win, good team win.
“(But) I think both of us are glad that it’s over with.”
The older Manning said he believed Sunday’s game could prove to be the last of the awkward regular season clashes between the brothers, who remain very close and talk to each other over the telephone at least a couple of times a week.
“I believe, certainly postseason is one thing, but I don’t believe I’ll make it to the next regular season one,” said 37-year-old Peyton, whose Broncos would not be in New York’s schedule rotation for another four years.
“So I think this would be the end of it. I’ll be happy about that and I know my family will.”
A postseason clash would be an intriguing prospect, especially if it came together this season with the Super Bowl coming to MetLife in February in the NFL’s first outdoor, winter time Super Bowl.
Postseason is the one area where Eli has bragging rights over big brother. The younger Manning has won two Super Bowls and two Super Bowl MVP awards, with older brother Peyton owning just one of each from his days with the Indianapolis Colts.
But in the early going this season, the Mannings and their teams seem to be going in opposite directions.
Denver, one of the hot preseason picks to reach the Super Bowl as American Football Conference (AFC) champions, improved to 2-0. The Giants, winners of two of the last six NFL title games, fell to 0-2 in the National Football Conference (NFC).
Peyton Manning leads the league in touchdowns with nine after tossing two more against Big Blue. He started the season with a record-tying seven scoring strikes against defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Eli Manning leads the National Football League in interceptions with seven after being picked off four times in Sunday’s lopsided loss.
Peyton, who registered his two previous wins against Eli and the Giants while with the Indianapolis Colts, helped Denver take charge after a holding a scant 10-9 lead at intermission thanks in part to some adjustments made at halftime.
“I thought we made good second-half adjustments,” said four-time NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning. “We changed the tempo of the game and came out of the locker room and put up consecutive touchdown drives.”
The match-up had been hotly anticipated as both quarterbacks threw for more than 400 yards in last week’s opening games, but the duel fizzled into a Broncos romp.
Denver’s Manning completed 30-of-43 passes for 307 yards without an interception.
New York’s Manning connected on 28-of-49 for 362 yards but was frustrated in the big moments as the Giants converted third downs into first downs only once in 11 opportunities and had three interceptions taken in the end zone.
“I think Eli would be the first to say that he’s not the way we want him to be,” Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said. “Somehow, some way, we’ve got to stop the interceptions.”
The Giants quarterback said his disappointment after the game was team related and not tied to any sibling rivalry.
“You want to go out there and play well, so you’re frustrated that you lost another game,” Eli said.
Peyton Manning advised not to count the Giants out.
“I think they’ll be fine. They always play their best when everybody is kind of stacked against them,” said Peyton, who said the victory was not as sweet as others as a nod to the pangs of brotherly love.
“It’s not like beating another team. It’s not probably quite as enjoyable as it would be if you were beating somebody else.”