Manning eclipses 500 TD passes in win over Cardinals

DENVER — Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was reminded before Sunday’s game in Denver that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, a former pupil, was just nine TD passes short of tying Brett Favre for the most in NFL history, and one shy of 500 for his career.

"If he gets nine I’m not getting on the plane," Arians quipped. "I’ll give him one."

Arians wasn’t asked about the gray area in between, so there’s no telling what mode of transportation he chose to get back to Phoenix after Manning threw four TDs in a 41-20 victory at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The first of those went to tight end Julius Thomas, temporarily giving Manning 500 in his career.

"I’ve been asked about it a number of times and I guess you can’t help but just take a couple moments and go down memory lane a little bit," Manning said of the milestone. "I don’t think there are any players still playing (who were playing) when I threw my first touchdown. 

"But it’s interesting, two coaches on Arizona’s sideline were both there my first game when I threw my first touchdown (Arians and assistant Tom Moore). I give both of those men a lot of credit for helping me improve."

Manning wasn’t at his most efficient Sunday against one of the league’s better defenses. He threw two interceptions, but he still completed 31 of 47 passes for a whopping 479 yards and he was sacked just once as the Broncos (3-1) remained within a half game of San Diego (4-1) for the AFC West lead while handing Arizona (3-1) its first loss. 

Most TD passes, NFL history

RANK NAME TDs
1. Brett Favre 508
2. Peyton Manning 503
3. Dan Marino 420
4. Drew Brees 372
5. Tom Brady 363

"Peyton did what he always does: He got rid of the ball quickly and tried to put his players in the best position to make plays," said Arizona cornerback Jerraud Powers, who Manning’s teammate in Indianapolis. "He’s going to know you just as well as you are going to know yourself as far as preparation and how he does things. They just out-executed us." 

Eight of Manning’s completions went to receiver Demaryius Thomas, who set a franchise record with 226 yards and two TDs in a matchup that Cardinals Pro Bowl cornerback Antonio Cromartie will want to forget.

"He got the best of me today, and that’s all I can really say," Cromartie said. "When you give up (226) damn yards to any damn receiver that’s not your best day."

Manning also led Denver on three scoring drives in the fourth quarter (two TDs, one field goal) after Arizona had pulled within 24-20 on an 81-yard TD pass from third-string QB Logan Thomas to running back Andre Ellington. 

By the end of the day, Manning was just five shy of tying Brett Favre for the most TD passes in NFL history. But when he finally achieves the record, Manning said he won’t get too sentimental about it.

"You know what? I never kept a football, mainly because the receivers always keep them," he quipped. "I’ll probably keep it in a bag somewhere, have a little piece of tape around it."

Manning said he has donated a lot of milestone footballs in the past, but he may attach a stipulation to this one.

"When Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers breaks (the record), give me the ball back and I’ll have something to play with in the backyard with my kids," he said. "It’s all just a matter of time I think with some of these young quarterbacks."

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