Confetti was falling down on Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick as they gathered at midfield for what may have been the last time after Sunday’s AFC Championship game.
Manning’s Broncos had just knocked off the Patriots by the skin of their teeth, a 20-18 nail-biter whose difference was a missed extra point. As it had been many times before, Sunday’s meeting between these two legends was historic.
“Hey listen, this might be my last rodeo, so it sure has been a pleasure,” the 39-year-old Manning said in footage captured by NFL Network, bending his surgically-repaired neck down to whisper in Belichick’s left ear.
“You’re a great competitor,” Belichick replied, keeping it short and sweet as usual.
If Sunday was truly their last encounter, Manning can take solace in the fact that his playoff record against Belichick was 3-2, though he has just one Super Bowl ring to Belichick’s six - four since taking the helm with New England in 2000.
At least Manning will have a chance to win a second one on Feb. 7 when his Broncos take on the Panthers in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.