With four touchdown passes on Sunday Night Football, Peyton Manning broke Brett Favre’s record for the most touchdown passes in NFL history and now has 510.
It is no surprise that Manning has had a long and successful NFL career or that he is going to one day retire with most of the big quarterback passing records.
What is surprising is that a quarterback who had multiple neck surgeries in his mid-30s and needed to relearn how to throw a football has come back to be better than ever.
Peyton Manning is the Benjamin Button of the NFL. In other words, he is a freak who defies explanation.
Just take a look.
Here are the 10 quarterbacks in NFL history who have thrown the most career touchdown passes after their 36th birthday. Manning has thrown 111 touchdowns in 38 games since joining the Broncos and is just nine touchdowns behind Favre even though Favre threw twice as many passes after turning 36.
Those 111 touchdowns for Manning with the Broncos looks even more impressive if we consider that he is throwing for a touchdown once every 13.1 passes. Of the 10 quarterbacks above, only Y.A. Tittle threw touchdowns more often after turning 36.
Now consider that Manning has thrown those 111 touchdowns with just 24 interceptions. Certainly the game has changed over the decades and quarterbacks in general are throwing fewer interceptions. But none of the other nine quarterbacks above are even close to Manning’s 4.6 touchdowns for every interception after turning 36.
And this is not just a situation in which Manning is able to just keep doing what he has always done. Rather, Manning has actually gotten better since turning 36 and is playing the best football of his career.
If we look at Manning’s adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A), which is just yards per attempt adjusted for interceptions, Manning is on pace this year to have the second-best season of his career. Manning had a 7.5 AY/A with the Colts. That number has increased to 9.0 with the Broncos, including three of the best five seasons of his career.
Ultimately, this may all just come down to Manning’s insane competitiveness combined with years of experience he can now fall back on. But these numbers may also be a reflection of the different coaches Manning has played for.
Just imagine what Manning’s career numbers would look like if he hadn’t played the majority of his career with a defensive-minded and ultra-conservative head coach like Tony Dungy.
Now that is scary.
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