One of the most notable NFL career records has been broken tonight, and it was broken by the greatest player in the history of the Colts franchise, quarterback Peyton Manning. The current Broncos' quarterback just threw his third touchdown pass of the game tonight against the San Francisco 49ers, the 509th touchdown pass of his career to set a new all-time NFL record for career touchdown passes.
Brett Favre previously held the record with 508, and after him is Dan Marino with 420. Now in first place is Peyton Manning. His record-tying 508th touchdown pass came on a 39-yard catch and run to Wes Welker and number 509 came on an 8-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas.
Earlier this week our own Ben Lamers took a look at the path to the record and the significant touchdown milestones that came while Manning was playing in Indianapolis. Touchdown pass number one came on September 6, 1998, in Peyton's regular season debut. He hit Marvin Harrison for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a loss to the Miami Dolphins and Dan Marino.
A couple of years later, Manning notched touchdown pass number 100, an 11-yard score to Marvin Harrison in the Colts' November 11, 2001 game against the Miami Dolphins (but not Marino, who had since retired), a game in which the Colts also lost.
Touchdown pass number 200 came on November 21, 2004, in the midst of a record-breaking season by Peyton. He hit Reggie Wayne for a 35-yard touchdown that came in a dominant win over the Chicago Bears.
Manning's 300th touchdown pass came, as you might have guessed, three years later - on December 9, 2007. Manning hit running back Joseph Addai for a 19-yard touchdown in a big win over the Baltimore Ravens.
Peyton's last touchdown pass as a Colt (regular season touchdown, that is) was the 399th of his career, and it came in the last regular season game he played in wearing the horseshoe. He threw two scores in that January 2, 2011 season finale, the second coming in the third quarter on a 30-yard pass to Pierre Garcon. The Colts beat the Titans on a game-winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri as time expired.
The 2011 season has been well documented, and Manning missed the entire year due to a neck injury that seriously threatened his career. It sounds rather silly now to suggest that his career might have been done, but at the time there was serious concern (within the Colts organization and within the Manning camp) about Peyton's future. It was a long, hard road back to taking the NFL field, one that saw the Colts release Manning in an incredibly emotional scene. Peyton signed with the Denver Broncos and continued to work to get back to full strength - something he never has been able to do.
To compensate, Manning adjusted other areas of his game, and what he lacks in arm strength he more than makes up for in his decision-making and accuracy. Touchdown pass number 400 came in Peyton's first game as a Bronco, on September 9, 2012. It was on a screen play that Demaryius Thomas took 71-yards to the end zone in a big win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
And then touchdown pass number 500 came just weeks ago, on October 5, 2014. Manning hit tight end Julius Thomas on a 7-yard out route to join Brett Favre as the only players in NFL history to reach the 500 touchdown pass milestone. The Broncos would go on to beat the previously-unbeaten Arizona Cardinals.
That brings us to tonight, October 19, 2014, when Peyton Manning set the NFL's all-time record for touchdown passes in a career, passing Favre by throwing his 509th scoring toss. The tying touchdown, number 508, came on a 39-yard catch and run from Manning to Wes Welker. The record setting pass came on an 8-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. The expression and joy on Peyton's face after the pass said it all.
There's nobody who deserves this more than Peyton. He's always done things the right way, and that's why the people of Indianapolis - and recently Denver - have embraced him so much. He's as much of a class act as there is and he's a heck of a quarterback. Especially after what he went through with his neck injury and the multiple surgeries, the doubt about his return that led to the release from the franchise he loved and the departure from the city that had become his home, and the grueling work he put in to come back - this is one of the most incredible comeback stories we've seen in a long time, and Peyton Manning completely deserves this record. To fans watching him, he'll always be a Colt, and seeing him set this record is just Peyton being Peyton. Congrats to the greatest Colt ever, Peyton Manning, on this very significant record.
What's your favorite Peyton Manning touchdown pass? Discuss in the comments.