The Peyton Manning-Tom Brady duel is not the equivalent of Aaron Burr vs. Alexander Hamilton or Marcus Claudius Marcellus against Viridomarus.
The quarterbacks won't be brandishing Wogdon pistols or Roman swords Sunday night. In 13 summit meetings they've never been eye to eye, hand to hand, toe to toe.
But Bart Scott was in true jagged-edge duels with Brady and Manning on 20 occasions.
“I beat them at home and on the road. They beat me outdoors, indoors, every which way. I knocked them down and stood over them. They humiliated me. They won big games against me; I won playoff games against them,” Scott said. “But it always was the greatest challenge to play against the best. That's who Manning and Brady are.”
Scott was a shrewd, ardent, sharp- witted linebacker for 11 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets.
“With most quarterbacks in the NFL, it was easy, like playing checkers. With Peyton and Tom, it was chess. I constantly had to try to outthink them,” said Scott, who retired this year and joined the CBS Sports Network's new “That Other Pregame Show.”
I called Scott for comparisons of Manning and Brady because, unlike those who coached or played with them, he's unbiased — “I don't have a horse in the race” — and brutally honest.
“The two are similar in a lot of ways. They approach football cerebrally. Brady has the stronger arm, but Manning is more accurate. Neither can throw on the run. They have to set their feet before they pass.
“The only way to attack them is to apply pressure up the middle. If you come from the outside, they'll step up in the pocket or move to the side, and make the throw. Crash the middle, and they have a fear of backing up.”
Don't stop Scott; he's on a roll.
“If you get to them, they go right down and don't take the big hit. Brady and Manning would rather live to fight another day.”
Any more comparisons?
“Actually, Peyton is more athletic. Brady's got the prettier hair.”
Scott doesn't pause for a breath, just as he couldn't when facing Brady or Manning. “Brady does that hurry-up offense so you can't change personnel. You'd better already have your blitz packages with your base defense. People think Manning runs a hurry-up, but all he does is hurry to the line and wait to see what the defense looks like. You don't fool him.
“When he points to the Mike (middle linebacker), I know he's figured out his play. Everything he says before he points is total B.S., so I never paid any attention. At Baltimore and New York we didn't go into our defense until after he pointed. He loves to put the running back or tight end in motion because once he sees who follows the motion, he knows if it's man or zone (defense), and where the blitz is coming from. He's the most brilliant quarterback there's ever been. He studies systems and coordinators more than players.
“In New England, (Bill) Belichick and Brady have a different game plan every game. They rely on a few plays and two receivers and stick to them the whole way. There is no Plan B. In Denver they go with several things early offensively, and Manning sees what the defense is doing, adjusts and rewrites the game plan if he has to. When I was with Baltimore, we were a man defense. We beat New England in the playoffs because we gave them a zone the entire game, and Belichick and Brady couldn't change.”
So, Bart, which quarterback would you rather have on your team, and who will win this game?
“Manning is the slightly better quarterback overall than Brady and tougher to play against, but I'd take Brady to win a playoff game because I think he's the most competitive quarterback ever.”
Scott doesn't have the horses in this race. “I got New England over the Broncos because the Patriots are so good at home and really need this game.”
In the 2010 postseason, Scott and the Jets beat Manning's Colts and Brady's Patriots ... face to face and back to back.
Overall, though, Scott lost 15 of 20 to the duo.
He will have the scars and stripes forever.
Peyton and Tom will duel the defenses, not each other, in the Chiller Thriller on Sunday evening.