Did you watch the game? The Bronco's defense was responsible for most of the early lead they had (fumble returned for a TD, strip sack putting them in position for a TD). Then for around 40 or more minutes of the game until that last TD drive it was like Manning wasn't there. Brady on the other hand had a fantastic second half. Look at the game stats. Brady rose to the occasion, Manning folded. If we want to say it was a goofy play that won NE the game the obvious counter is that there would have been no OT if not for a goofy 1st quarter.
How can you compare one messed up play that directly lead to an overtime win to an entire first quarter full of plays?
I watched the game and I think you're oversimplifying the result. Here's what I saw:
#1 - Brady had a lousy first half, unable to even lead his team to a field goal in the first 30. Manning didn't have a stellar first half either, but the offense scored three
times and he threw a TD pass, unlike Brady.
#2 - Belichick's M.O. is taking away the top strength of whoever he faces. He always
sacrifices some aspect of the game to diminish the threat elsewhere. Last night he focused on stopping Manning. There's a reason Knowshon Moreno had a career 224 rushing yards and it isn't that Moreno is the next AP.
#3 - Tout the Denver defense all you like - Manning had his share of disadvantages as well. As I recall, Brady was back at full strength with all his weapons, while Manning had to play without last minute scratch J. Thomas, one of the top TEs in the league.
#4 - The last 6 drives prior to the overtime win were punts (3 for each team). That doesn't speak domination, that speaks parity. Neither team was going anywhere with the ball, so if that punt recovery hadn't fallen into the Patriots lap, there's no doubt in my mind that the game would have ended in a tie.
As for respect, I sure haven't seen Manning glorified any more or less than Brady. Manning is out there more because he's more active with endorsements and conversational. Brady and the rest of the Pats never really offer much up, just like MT's interview with him after the game. I recall at the start of the season though that Brady was ranked #1 headed into the year despite having practically no receiving weapons at all. Sounds like pretty good street cred to me. I'd argue that A. Rodgers gets way less respect than either of these guys, but just look at how the Packers have completely folded without him over the last month.