Denver’s Manning did it on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker with 6:57 left in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Houston Texans.
After throwing the touchdown, he pumped his fist before jogging toward the end zone. Once therem he high-fived right tackle Orlando Franklin before reaching Decker and slapping his hand and bumping helmets with the receiver.
He then trotted to the sideline, where Manning was greeted by cheering players and staff before taking a seat and taking off his helmet to review pictures of the last drive.
He entered the game with 47 and his first touchdown came on a 36-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter, and the second one was a 10-yard throw to Decker earlier in the fourth.
The four-time MVP is in his second season in Denver after missing all of 2011 following neck injuries and surgeries. The first overall pick in the 1998 draft, Manning spent his first 14 seasons in Indianapolis, with whom he won a Super Bowl in 2006.
Surrounded by some of 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 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 AFC playoffs again.
Manning entered Sunday’s game with a career-high 4,811 yards passing. He was 666 yards from surpassing the single-season record for yards passing set by 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.