The final chapter of the greatest quarterback rivalry in NFL history plays out in all likelihood Sunday with the 17th meeting between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
New England and Denver play again next season, but Manning is expected to have received his gold watch — and maybe another silver trophy — by then.
In that case, Sunday's showdown in the AFC championship between the Patriots and Broncos would mark both the crest and the culmination of a clash that defines the two quarterback greats who transformed the game and transcended the sport.
Their respectful rivalry — they're neither best buddies nor mortal enemies — began on a cloudy afternoon in Foxboro Stadium on Sept. 30, 2001, and grew into something on par with Arnold Palmer vs. Jack Nicklaus or Wilt Chamberlain vs. Bill Russell.
This generation of football fans may never see anything like it again.
"Every football fan should watch this game because very seldom in life do you get to see two competitors as great as they are with this much at stake," Joe Theismann said. "It's what's at stake that makes this one more interesting."
No quarterback has won five Lombardi Trophies, and Brady has that in his sights, too.