5. December 15th, 2002: Colts @ Browns
It’s a cold winter day in the city of Cleveland. In the middle of December, fans pack the stadium in 38-degree weather to see what was quite possibly the greatest battle of first overall pick quarterbacks. Not only that, but they get to witness a (relatively) young Ed Hochuli as the head referee of the matchup. Hochuli was entering his fourth season as an NFL head referee.
Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts went up against Tim Couch and the Cleveland Browns in this celebrity-studded matchup, and it was a great game. Despite the Colts winning by a score of 28-23, it would actually be Tim Couch who would have the better football game. You can view a comparison of their stats below.
Peyton Manning (IND): 20/34, 58.8% Completion percentage, 277 Passing Yards, 2 Touchdowns, 1 Interception, 92.4 Passer Rating
Tim Couch (CLE): 21/35, 60% Completion Percentage, 287 Passing Yards, 2 Touchdowns, 105.3 Passer Rating
Even though he wasn’t able to pull out the win for the Cleveland Browns, Tim Couch was still able to slightly outperform Peyton Manning, which is an impressive feat on its own. This was the same season where Peyton Manning went to his second Pro Bowl and was the fifth of his career. Many times throughout his career Tim Couch showed sparks like this of being a franchise quarterback in the NFL.