New England Patriots head coach and eight-time Super Bowl winner Bill Belichick heaped praise on quarterback Peyton Manning during the signal-caller's induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend, saying that the five-time NFL MVP was "definitely the best quarterback I've coached against."
"More than any one single offensive player, he forced us to change and adapt defensive game plans," Belichick said, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
Belichick has won six Super Bowls as the Patriots' head coach and an additional two with the New York Giants as their defensive coordinator. He has been on NFL coaching staffs since 1975, when he joined the Baltimore (now Indianapolis) Colts as a special assistant. He's led the Pats since 2000.
The 69-year-old has therefore coached against his fair share of legendary quarterbacks, but he routinely went up against Manning's Colts and Denver Broncos with high stakes.
The Colts and Pats routinely fought for AFC supremacy in the 2000s and faced each other in the playoffs three times. New England won twice, and Indianapolis won once.
Manning became a Bronco in 2012. Three years later, his team took down the Pats in the 2015 AFC Championship Game.
Belichick's Pats ultimately got the best of Manning overall, beating the quarterback's team 12 of 20 times.
Manning was clearly a formidable foe, however, perhaps no more than when he threw for 349 passing yards in a 38-34 win over the Pats in the 2006 AFC Championship Game, which New England had led 21-3.
Manning retired after the Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, capping a career that included a pair of Lombardi Trophies, a Super Bowl MVP, 14 Pro Bowls and seven First-Team All-Pro honors.