(Reuters) - Peyton Manning broke the single season NFL record for touchdown passes on Sunday but the modest quarterback was more comfortable discussing his team’s performance later.
“I really feel like it’s a team accomplishment, certainly an offensive accomplishment,” the Denver Broncos quarterback said after throwing his 51st touchdown pass.
“But a lot of people played roles in this. I think it’s a unique thing to be a part of NFL history, even though it may be temporary... (Tom) Brady will probably break it next year and the year after, so we’ll enjoy it for as long as it lasts.”
Manning started Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans with 47 TDs in 14 games this season, adding four more to regain the record he held for three years before Brady broke it in 2007.
The New England quarterback threw 50 passes that year, after Manning connected with 49 in 2004.
Manning described 2004 as a “unique chase” because he was chasing Dan Marino’s two decades-old record.
“I still think Dan Marino’s record in ‘84 is extremely special,” Manning, 37, said. “Certainly, the game has changed since then and, for him to have thrown 48 touchdowns in ‘84, is still one of the most remarkable ones. It lasted for so long and he was one of my favorite quarterbacks.”
But Manning’s modesty should not disguise his remarkable achievement. Multiple neck surgeries had kept him out of the entire 2011 season following which he was released by the Indianapolis Colts.
“I think it’s well documented that this is the second chapter of my career and I didn’t know what to expect off that injury and new team, new players and new physical state after an injury,” he said.
“I’ve put a lot of time and a lot of hard work into it, but I’ve received a lot of help along the way from coaches and trainers and strength coaches and teammates.
“When something like this happens, it just reminds me even more of how grateful and thankful I am for a lot of people that have helped me during this second chapter.”
Denver head coach John Fox said it was gratifying to see a “very humble” guy get rewarded for working so hard.
“He (Manning) said the best news he heard was that we had won the AFC West for the third straight year,” Fox said.
Speaking of which, Manning and the Broncos have some unfinished business as they eye the post season, but for a few moments at least they savored a special moment on Sunday.
“Yeah, it was very special,” Manning said. “Very rarely during an NFL game do you get to have a moment like that and, in 2004, when we broke Marino’s record, we had to go for two and we really did not get to enjoy it.
“Touchdowns, to me, means you’re scoring points and helping your team win games, so that’s something that means a little more.
“You know you can have a lot of yards and not have points and not win games.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; editing by Sudipto Ganguly