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Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning on Sunday broke the NFL record of New England Patriot Tom Brady for most touchdown (TD) passes thrown in a single season with 51.
Manning did it on a 25-yard pass to tight end Julius Thomas with 00:04:28 remaining in a game against the Houston Texans. Just 2 1/2 minutes earlier, he tied the mark with a 20-yard pass to wide receiver 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, walked 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 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. His first TD of the game came on a 36-yard pass to wide receiver 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 previous record of 50 TDs in 2007. Before that, the high mark belonged to Manning, who threw 49 TD 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.
Manning is putting up record numbers like he did in his remarkable 2004 season.
That year, wide receivers 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 Green Bay Packers quarterback 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 former quarterback Brett Favre for most playoff appearances when he qualified for his 13th trip to the postseason.
Although he could set several more standards this season, Manning has insisted his only concern is the Broncos' win-loss record. He wants desperately to gain home-field advantage and the top seed in the American Football Conference playoffs again.
Manning finished Sunday's game with a career-high 5,211 yards passing. He is 266 from surpassing the single-season record for yards passing set by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees in 2011.
Manning threw 37 touchdown passes last year, which broke a franchise record of 27 set by John Elway in 1997 and tied by Jake Plummer in 2004.
The Associated Press
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