- Associated Press - Monday, October 20, 2014

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and star quarterback Tom Brady both paid tribute to rival Peyton Manning on Monday, a day after Manning broke Brett Favre’s record for career touchdown passes.

“He’d probably be waiting a lot longer to pass that record if he hadn’t played against me so many times,” Belichick quipped to reporters during a conference call. “He certainly threw a lot of them against defenses that I had.”

Manning threw four touchdown passes Sunday night against the 49ers to set a new NFL high mark of 510 touchdowns passing.

“It’s a great record. It’s incredibly hard to do,” Brady said during his weekly WEEI radio appearance. “He’s been very durable. He’s been obviously consistent, beyond consistent. He’s just a spectacular player.”

But while Belichick took credit for his team helping Manning pile up the numbers, Manning hasn’t had tremendous success against New England while playing with Indianapolis and Denver. He brings the Broncos to Foxborough on Nov. 2.

Manning is 8-14 against the Patriots, 6-12 in the regular season and 2-2 in the playoffs. He has 41 touchdowns and 22 interceptions against New England, including three TDs and eight interceptions in the playoffs. He piled up the yards in the last two postseason matchups, including last season’s AFC title game.

“Favre did it for a long time and did it on a very consistent level. Peyton’s done the same thing, even a little more so,” Belichick said. “It’s a phenomenal accomplishment. Like I said, he’s certainly thrown plenty of them against me.”

Brady said he texted congratulations to Manning on Sunday night, adding he and Manning don’t talk a lot but do exchange occasional texts.

“He’s really got great command, he’s really a field general,” he said. “He makes throwing four touchdown passes look so easy, which of course, as we know, it’s not.”

New England fans, however, like to point to titles. Brady has won three Super Bowls while Manning has won one.

Brady said Manning has had an incredible career. Brady said his own circumstances have been very fortunate and beyond what he could have imagined when starting out.

“You don’t think about these things when you’re a kid, certainly I never did,” he said. ” I think I’ve just been so fortunate over the years to be on a great team, great teammates, and throw great relationships and friends in.

“Certainly the winning, because I think that’s what sets our team apart from a lot of other teams, has been our ability to win on a consistent basis year in and year out, no matter what the circumstances or situations,” he said. “I’m a lucky guy, and still going.”


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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