Peyton Manning powered the Denver Broncos to a 37-13 win over the hapless Houston Texans Sunday with four touchdown passes, giving him 51 TD tosses for the season still with one game to play, while breaking Tom Brady’s record (50) set in 2007.
The Manning-Brady Saga is the greatest quarterback rivalry in NFL history and one of the great personal rivalries in the history of sports.
They are two performers who have ruled the nation’s most popular sport for more than a decade, producing record-setting numbers and challenging for championships year after year.
Manning’s record 51 TD tosses adds yet another chapter to this sporting saga and another layer of legend to his own storybook Hall of Fame legacy.
His record-tying 50th TD pass went for 20 yards to wide receiver Eric Decker; the record setter was as 25-yard toss hauled in by tight end Julius Thomas.
When contemplating the magnitude of Manning’s 51 touchdowns in just 15 games, keep in mind that just six other QBs in history have passed for even 40 TDs in a season, let alone reaching the once unfathomable level of 50+.
There is, as we’ve noted a number of times this season, a grand disparity between the elite passers in the modern game and the QBs who are lucky even to be in the NFL. The rising statistical tide of modern football, the kind powered by the likes of Manning, Brady and Drew Brees, has clearly not lifted all boats.
The short list of QBs on the 40+ list provides all the proof you need.
Even among this handful of elite QBs, Manning stands out as a singular performer. After all, his 51 TD passes this year might not even be his most impressive accomplishment.
We sized up the short list of QBs on the 40+ TD pass list to see who got the ball in the end zone most often – that is, rated top to bottom by touchdown percentage. Manning set the standard for this crew a decade ago, back in his landmark 2004 season.
The 40+ TD Pass Club (ranked by TD pass percentage)
In other words, Manning was actually far more effective back in 2004, a season when a ridiculous nearly 10 percent of all his attempts resulted in a score.
He also posted a higher passer rating and average per attempt that season.
Pretty amazing when you set an NFL record with 51 TD passes and it's not even the greatest season of your career.
A few other Peyton Manning notes:
The Broncos have now scored 572 points this year. Denver need score only 18 points in the season finale at defenseless Oakland to break the existing single-season record (589) set by the 2007 Patriots.
The Broncos now average 38.13 PPG, tied for second all time behind the 1950 Rams (38.83 PPG), who scored 466 points in 12 games.
The Broncos need to score 49 points against the Raiders next Sunday to break the per-game scoring record held by those Rams.
It pays to remember that those Rams played five of their 12 games against expansion teams (49ers, Colts) or franchises so inept they were soon folded (N.Y. Yanks). In fact, the Rams averaged 44.2 PPG in those five games, including 70 against the expansion Colts, an AAFC import team that went 1-11 and fielded perhaps the worst defense in NFL history.
Manning is now 17-3 (.850) all time against the Houston Texans, the 17 victories his most against any NFL franchise. No. 2 on Manning's personal hit list is Jacksonville: 15-5 (.750).