Sports Outside the Beltway

Manning Bowl I Goes to Peyton

Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts beat Eli Manning’s New York Giants in the first professional matchup of the sibling quarterback prodigies.

After beating little brother Eli, all Peyton Manning felt was relief and pride. Relief that the much-hyped battle of the brothers was over, and pride in the way they handled it. No gloating, no giddy postgame interviews, no big scene as the two met when it was over.

Manning Bowl I New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, left, walks off the field with brother, Peyton Manning, quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts after the Colts beat the Giants 26-21 in NFL football action at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Sunday, Sept. 10, 2006. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) “I told him I loved him,” Peyton said after the Indianapolis Colts outlasted Eli and the New York Giants 26-21 on Sunday night. “I enjoyed watching him play in person,” the elder Manning added. “He’s every bit as good as he looked on TV. He’s going to be a great player in this league for a long time. I’m proud to be related to the guy. I’m proud to be his brother.”

As for the game itself, the “Manning Bowl” actually lived up to the hype. The brothers played well and so did their teams, though the Giants made far too many mistakes to win the first NFL game to feature two brothers starting at quarterback. Peyton finished 25-of-41 for 276 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The two-time MVP also led the Colts to scores on five of their first seven possessions.

Eli was 20-of-34 for 247 yards and touchdowns passes to Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey. He also had two costly second-half mistakes — a fumble and an interception, both of which came with New York down two points. Both led to Indianapolis scores.

After it was over, the siblings came to midfield, surrounded by photographers, big brother patting little brother on the back of his head.

It’s fitting that the elder Manning brother won their first meeting. He’s the better quarterback, having reached his prime. Young Eli looks to be on the same path, although as the captain of an NFC East rival to my Dallas Cowboys, I can’t wish him too much success.

Papa Archie has to be proud of his sons, not only for being #1 overall selections in their respective drafts and then living up to the expectations that come with that but for the way they carry themselves.

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