1:00 PM ET, December 22, 2013
NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
HOUSTON -- Peyton Manning had to prepare for a 2-point conversion and couldn't celebrate when he set the NFL record for touchdown passes in a season in 2004.
On Sunday, when Denver's quarterback regained the record against the Houston Texans, he was able to soak in the historic moment.
"It was very special," he said. "Very rarely during an NFL game do you get to have a moment like that."
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Manning regained his record with 51 when he threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns, including three in the fourth quarter to give Denver its third straight AFC West title. 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.
Manning figures Brady will overtake him again one day, especially if the NFL moves to an 18-game regular season.
"I think it's a unique thing and a neat thing to be a part of NFL history, even though it may be temporary," he said. "So I'm going to enjoy it as long as it lasts, and hopefully the Hall of Fame will send the ball back once somebody throws for more."
He entered the game with 47 and his first touchdown came on a 36-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter. The second was a 10-yard throw to Decker earlier in the fourth period.
The Broncos already had a spot in the playoffs, but their victory, combined with Kansas City's loss to Indianapolis, gave them the division crown.
"This only means something because it helped our team win games and we won the division today in a competitive AFC West," Manning said. "That's a good thing."
Manning had previously established the record by throwing 49 touchdown passes in 2004.
Passing With Flying Colors
Peyton Manning tossed his 51st TD pass Sunday, reclaiming the NFL record for scoring throws in a season he held in 2004-07.
Most Pass TDs in a Season
|(* one game remaining)|
-- Source: ESPN Stats & Information
He has a career-high 5,211 yards passing this season, which is third in NFL history and 265 yards shy of the 5,476 yards Drew Brees gained in 2011.
"The guy is a great quarterback, obviously," Houston interim coach Wade Phillips said. "The last one, I was surprised that they threw it deep late in the game, but that's part of football."
The Broncos couldn't do anything offensively in the third quarter, gaining just 38 yards, and had to punt on each of their four possessions. Their defense helped them out after that, with Mike Adams intercepting Schaub at the Houston 28.
Manning wasted no time making Houston pay, and found Decker two plays later for the touchdown that extended the lead to 23-13.
"I thought the turning point was the Mike Adams interception," Denver coach John Fox said.
It was all Broncos after that, with Manning grabbing the record with two more touchdown passes.
Manning made the record-setting throw to Julius 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 picked up the ball after Thomas dropped it after the touchdown and tucked it in the side of his jersey, where it remained as he walked off the field.
Manning laughed when asked about Thomas not holding onto the ball after the score.
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"It wouldn't have surprised me if Julius would have went and handed it to some babe up in the stands, trying to get her phone number in exchange for the ball," he joked. "That would be right up Julius' alley."
Thomas didn't realize his reception set the record when he caught it.
"I came back to the sidelines and I'm sitting down on the bench and somebody said: 'That was the one,' " he said. "Maybe I shouldn't have dropped it so carelessly, I should have kept it."
Decker led the Broncos with 10 receptions for 131 yards, and Demaryius Thomas had eight catches for 123 yards. Wes Welker missed his second straight game after sustaining his second concussion in four weeks on Dec. 8.
Schaub found Keshawn Martin on a 15-yard touchdown pass to get Houston within 16-13 early in the third quarter.
Andre Johnson finished with four catches for 63 yards. He has 103 catches this season to reach 100 for the fifth time in his career, tying an NFL record for most seasons with at least that many receptions.
Johnson entered the game needing one catch to reach the mark held by Welker. He did it on a 33-yard reception in the first quarter.
Manning's TD pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of the second quarter put Denver up 10-3. Houston used a 35-yard field goal to cut the lead to 10-6 after a 51-yard punt return by Martin.
Matt Prater made field goals of 25 and 44 yards to extend Denver's lead to 16-6 at halftime.
The Broncos lost star linebacker Von Miller to a knee injury in the first quarter, and Houston cornerback Johnathan Joseph went out with a foot injury in the second quarter and didn't return. Neither coach had updates on the injuries after the game. ... Houston TE Ryan Griffin had a career-high 66 yards receiving.
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 22: Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos works out on the field prior turnover the...(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||7.3||3.6|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||1-3||1-2|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
|FG||8:53||Matt Prater 32 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 12 plays, 78 yds, 4:38
|FG||2:06||Randy Bullock 45 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 7 plays, 47 yds, 3:04
|TD||15:00||Demaryius Thomas 36 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 64 yds, 2:08
|FG||6:09||Randy Bullock 35 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 7 plays, 10 yds, 3:45
|FG||0:59||Matt Prater 25 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 13 plays, 69 yds, 5:10
|FG||0:05||Matt Prater 44 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 4 plays, 43 yds, 0:26
|TD||10:43||Keshawn Martin 15 Yard Pass From Matt Schaub (Randy Bullock Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 74 yds, 3:14
|TD||13:29||Eric Decker 10 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 28 yds, 0:45
|TD||7:04||Eric Decker 20 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 55 yds, 3:03
|TD||4:34||Julius Thomas 25 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 56 yds, 0:48
Three of Peyton Manning's four touchdown passes were thrown at least 15 yards downfield. Manning has thrown eight touchdown passes on such throws in his last four games, after throwing zero in his previous four games. Manning's average touchdown pass traveled 21.8 yards downfield against the Texans. Entering the game, Manning's average touchdown pass traveled 8.0 yards downfield, the 4th-lowest average in the NFL.[+]
Peyton Manning Passing 15+ Yards Downfield This Season
With news that Wes Welker will likely miss the last 2 games of the regular season... Welker has played in all but 278 of the Broncos snaps this season, but Peyton Manning has found success without him on the field, completing a higher percentage of passes and posting a higher Total QBR.[+]
Broncos With Wes Welker On/Off Field - This Season
The Texans' defense has struggled this season, especially against opposing quarterbacks, where Houston has allowed the 4th-highest Total QBR.[+]
TEXANS DEFENSE THIS SEASON
Peyton Manning's 36-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in the 2nd quarter was his 7th touchdown pass of at least 35 yards this season, tied with Drew Brees for the most in the NFL. It's Manning's most such touchdown passes in a season since he threw 7 in 2007.[+]
ESPN Stats & Information
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