In 2004, Peyton Manning set the record for the most touchdown passes in a single season, throwing 49 of them that year with the Colts when he was 28 years old. Tom Brady would break that record in 2007, completing 50 touchdown passes.
Now 37 years old and in his second season with the Broncos, Manning has reclaimed the record. His fourth touchdown Sunday in an AFC West-clinching win against the Texans, a 25-yard completion to tight end Julius Thomas with 4:28 left in the game, gave Manning 51 touchdowns for the season.
Manning still has one more game to add to that total at Oakland in Week 17. The Broncos also clinched a first-round bye with the victory.
Never one to call too much attention to himself, Manning said it was a “team record” and expects it to be broken, but he will savor it for now.
“I’m sure it’s just a temporary record, but I will enjoy it,” he said
Manning received a standing ovation at Reliant Stadium after breaking the record and got plenty of love from his teammates and coaches on the sideline.
“It was very special,” Manning said of the reaction, according to the team’s website. “Very rarely during an NFL game do you get to have a moment like that. Having some of my teammates come onto the field, having some defensive players coming out and high-fiving me – and I was telling them thanks back, thanks for all of their help. That is certainly a moment I’ll remember. Lots of Broncos fans in the stands today. That was pretty unique as well. Certainly a moment I’ll remember because of just the team bonding that went on during that time.”
Entering Sunday, Manning had already set a career-high for passing yards in a season, and for the first time he eclipsed the 5,000-yard mark. He entered the game with 4,811 and went 32 of 51 for 400 yards, his fourth game of at least 400 yards passing this season. Drew Brees holds the single-season passing record with 5,476 yards set in 2011. With 266 yards against the Raiders, Manning would break the record.
In a video posted on the team’s website, Broncos coach John Fox is shown presenting Manning with the game ball in the locker room and Manning was ready to walk away before his teammates implored him to make a speech.
“Like coach Fox said, the best news I heard all day, we won our division today,” Manning told his teammates. “That’s a heck of an accomplishment. Let’s keep it going next week. I just can’t thank you guys enough. A lot of people contributed to this (record.) I really think this is a team accomplishment – defense getting us the ball back, receivers catching a lot of passes.”
Manning tied the record with 6:57 left in the game on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker.