Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Manning rewriting record book

Sets single-season mark with four-TD performance

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HOUSTON -- Peyton Manning has broken Tom Brady's NFL record for most touchdown passes in a season with 51.

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 21/2 minutes earlier, he tied the mark with a 20-yard pass to Eric Decker.

"I really feel like it's a team accomplishment, certainly an offensive accomplishment," Manning said. "There's a lot of people that played roles in this."

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, 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 picked up the ball after Thomas dropped it 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.

"We're not surprised at what Peyton does," Julius Thomas said. "The work he puts in every day, you see how he demands the best from himself. Fortunate for us, we're the beneficiaries of that."

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

"They were able to make the big plays and we weren't able to stop them from doing that," Houston safety Shiloh Keo said.

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."

Manning began 2013 by becoming the first quarterback since 1969 to throw for seven touchdowns in a game. Earlier this month he broke an NFL record he held with Brett Favre for most playoff appearances when he qualified for his 13th trip to the post-season.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 23, 2013 C6

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