On Sunday, in the 15th game of the season, he caught and passed Tom Brady with his 50th and 51st touchdown passes, breaking the record set by the New England quarterback in 2007.
“I really feel like it’s a team accomplishment, certainly an offensive accomplishment,” the Denver Broncos quarterback said after throwing his 51st touchdown pass.
“But a lot of people played roles in this. I think it’s a unique thing to be a part of NFL history, even though it may be temporary… [Tom] Brady will probably break it next year and the year after, so we’ll enjoy it for as long as it lasts.”
Brady set the record, which previously belonged to Manning, in 2007. Manning had established the record by throwing 49 touchdown passes in 2004. Manning described 2004 as a “unique chase” because he was chasing Dan Marino’s two decades-old record.
“I still think Dan Marino’s record in ’84 is extremely special,” Manning, 37, said. “Certainly, the game has changed since then and for him to have thrown 48 touchdowns in ’84 is still one of the most remarkable ones. It lasted for so long and he was one of my favorite quarterbacks.”
Manning entered the game with 47 TDs and his first touchdown came on a 36-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter. His 50th TD pass, to Eric Decker, covered 20 yards and came with 6 minutes, 57 seconds left in the Broncos’ 37-13 victory over Houston. It was his third TD pass of the day and second of the fourth quarter. His fourth TD, a 25-yard pass to Julius Thomas, came with 4:28 left.
The Broncos already had a spot in the playoffs, but their victory, combined with Kansas City’s loss to Indianapolis, gave them the division crown.
“This only means something because it helped our team win games and we won the division today in a competitive AFC West,” Manning said. “That’s a good thing.”
He has a career-high 5,211 yards passing this season, which is third in NFL history and 265 yards shy of the 5,476 yards Drew Brees gained in 2011, reports the USA Today.
“The guy is a great quarterback, obviously,” Houston interim coach Wade Phillips said. “The last one, I was surprised that they threw it deep late in the game, but that’s part of football.”
Manning was the NFL’s 2012 Comeback Player of the Year, showing he was every bit as good as before. He’s having his best season at age 37, just two years removed from the four neck surgeries that weakened his right triceps and threatened his career. He hadn’t missed a start with the Colts before 2011.
“I think it’s well documented that this is the second chapter of my career and I didn’t know what to expect off that injury and new team, new players and new physical state after an injury,” he said.
“I’ve put a lot of time and a lot of hard work into it, but I’ve received a lot of help along the way from coaches and trainers and strength coaches and teammates.”