ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Perhaps someday, it will mean something to Peyton Manning if he holds family bragging rights with a 3-0 record in head-to-head games with younger brother Eli.
But for this week, as Peyton's Denver Broncos prepare to play Eli's New York Giants, Manning insists he's far more concerned with trying to become 2-0 on the season.
"You do take a moment to realize that it is special. But once the game gets started, all week the focus is on their defense, and you can go out there and just play," the elder Manning said Wednesday.
Peyton's Indianapolis Colts won the previous meetings in 2006 and 2010.
In the years since their teams last played, Peyton underwent four surgeries on his neck, sat out the 2011 season, was released by the Colts and chose the Broncos after one of the most high-profile free agency tours in league history. Eli, meanwhile, won his second Super Bowl.
Yet Peyton is the one entering Sunday's game with both Super Bowl and MVP expectations, both of which were heightened after Denver's dominant 49-27 win against the Baltimore Ravens in the opener — a game in which Manning threw a record-tying seven touchdown passes along with 462 yards and no interceptions.
"There's not many superlatives left to describe the other night," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "As I watched him play, the thing that struck me was his patience. His relentless pressure that he puts on the defensive team, to the point where he's not going to make a mistake."
Eli threw for nearly as many yards (450) in the Giants' opener at the Dallas Cowboys. But he also threw three interceptions, mistakes that contributed to the 36-31 loss. Eli threw two of his interceptions in the first quarter. The third was the most costly, when a screen pass was tipped, then returned for a 49-yard touchdown on the first play after the two-minute warning.
Peyton has had games like that — like in the second week of last season when he threw interceptions on the first three drives in a loss to the Atlanta Falcons. But there will be no brotherly support this week.
Eli said if they communicate at all in the days leading up to the game, football is off limits.
"You don't want to give away any tips or hints, anything that I can tell my defensive coordinator or he could tell his," Eli said.
Instead they will save their pleasantries for a pregame chat, a handshake and a hug before the coin toss, and a nod to acknowledge each other when they line up across from each other during the national anthem, just as they did in 2006 and 2010.
"I think you do take a moment there. And you kind of capture it and hold onto it," Peyton said. "I have a moment from the 2006 game and the 2010 game, but that's one moment. The rest of the time you're going out and trying to do your job."
With Peyton's past health issues and the knowledge their teams won't play again in the regular season until 2017 — at which point Peyton will be 41 and a year past the final season of his Denver contract — both brothers admitted Sunday's game in New Jersey will be special.
"When he was going through everything, it makes you appreciate the game you're playing and how fortunate you are to go out there and play football and to be healthy. And you just don't know when it might be taken away from you," Eli said.