published Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Manning sets new NFL TD passes record with 51

Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning smiles as he walks off the field after he threw a touchdown pass against the Houston Texans during his NFL game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Houston. The pass was manning's 51st touchdown pass of the season.
Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning smiles as he walks off the field after he threw a touchdown pass against the Houston Texans during his NFL game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Houston. The pass was manning's 51st touchdown pass of the season.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

HOUSTON — Peyton Manning has broken Tom Brady's NFL record for most touchdown passes in a season with 51. He surpassed the 50 TD passes Tom Brady threw in 2007 and led the Broncos (12-3) to a 37-13 win over the Texans (2-13) that extended Houston's franchise-record skid to 13 games.

Denver's Manning did it on a 25-yard pass to Julius Thomas with 4:28 remaining in the game Sunday against the Texans. Just 2 1-2 minutes earlier, he tied the mark with a 20-yard pass to Eric Decker.

Manning made the throw to Thomas and walked toward the end zone, where his teammates patted him on the head. He then took off his helmet and walking to the sideline and pumped his fist once. His teammates came out to greet him and he gave dozens of high-fives as he grinned and walked to the bench.

Decker somehow got the ball after the touchdown and tucked it in the side of his jersey, where it remained as he walked off the field.

Manning entered the game with 47 TDs and his first touchdown came on a 36-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter. The second one was a 10-yard throw to Decker early in the fourth period.

Brady set the record, which previously belonged to Manning, in 2007. Manning had established the record by throwing 49 touchdown passes in 2004.

Surrounded by the best targets he's ever had, operating a turbocharged assault with a body that's much less a question mark, Manning is putting up record numbers like he did in that remarkable 2004 season.

That year, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley all topped 1,000 yards receiving. Manning established NFL records with 49 touchdown throws and a 121.1 passer rating, marks since surpassed by Brady and Aaron Rodgers (122.5).

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.

Last week, Houston interim coach Wade Phillips said Manning's season was "just the best year ever of any quarterback."

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