Peyton nearing TD passes mark

ByJeff Legwold via ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
ESPN

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With his next touchdown pass, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will cross a historical threshold and continue his march toward one of the league's more coveted individual milestones.

Going into Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, Manning has 499 career touchdown passes. His next would make him just the second quarterback in league history to reach 500 and put him on the doorstep of Brett Favre's record of 508.

"It's greatness," Broncos coach John Fox said after Wednesday's practice. "When somebody reaches that kind of statistic in their career, it's pretty remarkable."

Manning, who has 100 scoring passes in just 35 regular-season starts since signing with Denver in 2012, wanted to talk about the Cardinals' top-five defense more than the mark Wednesday -- he even called the discussion about reaching 500 "the other thing" at one point.

"When asked about it, obviously just trying to win this football game, but when asked about it, I have reflected on the great teammates and coaches that I've been with along the way, who have been a part of that," Manning said. "You don't throw that many touchdowns without a lot of help. I guess I think about just how grateful I am to have played with some great teammates at all positions ... excellent coaching. I'll always be grateful for that."

Manning has averaged 2.053 scoring passes per game over the course of his career and 3.5 per game in his two-plus seasons with the Broncos. So Favre's record is clearly in sight as the Broncos enter October.

The fact that just seven quarterbacks in league history have reached even 300 touchdown passes -- including Manning's boss, Hall of Famer John Elway -- speaks to where the benchmark fits in the big picture.

So does the fact that the top four quarterbacks not named Manning in terms of touchdown passes thrown in a Broncos uniform -- Elway (300), Craig Morton (74), Jake Plummer (71) and Brian Griese (71) -- threw 516 combined touchdown passes with the team.

Manning's opponent Sunday features two of his former coaches on the team's staff. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was Manning's quarterbacks coach for Manning's first three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, and Cardinals assistant head coach/offense Tom Moore was Manning's longtime offensive coordinator in Indianapolis.

"You saw the greatness coming," Arians said. "The beginnings of the no-huddle and how he was going to be able to go along with that and really take it to a whole new level."

Asked Wednesday what statistic was important to him as a quarterback, Manning went with a little more nuts-and-bolts approach.

"I think you always look at your touchdown-to-interception [ratio] every single year," Manning said. "... Touchdowns high, interceptions low, it means you're getting your team in the end zone and you're protecting the ball. That particular statistic usually leads to winning football games."

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