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Manning Up: Three more down, three to go

With Manning swiftly approaching Brett Favre's all-time touchdown record, we break down why Julius Thomas thought scoring this weekend on the Jets was "so easy", and take a detailed look at each individual touchdown.

Peyton now sits just three back of sole possession of the all-time passing touchdowns record.
Peyton now sits just three back of sole possession of the all-time passing touchdowns record.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Recap of Last Week:

Last week, Peyton made history yet again, becoming the second quarterback of all-time to throw for 500 career touchdown passes. He then continued his pursuit of Favre's all-time record of 508 touchdown passes with three more touchdowns, making it a four-TD day against the Cardinals. Following last week, Manning sat just six touchdowns back of the all-time record, with 503 career touchdowns, and was on pace for 48 touchdown passes on the season.

Touchdown #1:

5 remaining for Favre's all-time record, 43 remaining to break last year's single-season record

Receiver: Demaryius Thomas

Quarter/Time: 2nd Quarter/5:50

Down/Distance: 3rd and 1, NYJ 1 yard line (1-yard score)

For Manning's first touchdown pass of the day, the Broncos brought out the dual-tight end look, showing 12-personnel at the goal-line on third down and one. Julius Thomas was in the tight end position on the left side of the line, in a three-point stance; Virgil Green, the second tight end, lined up as a full-back, three yards behind Peyton Manning, and two yards in front of Ronnie Hillman, the tailback. Demaryius Thomas lined up in the right slot, and Emmanuel Sanders was the final offensive skill position player, lined up as the right wide receiver, staggered off the line of scrimmage. The New York Jets defense showed a tight, stacked 3-3-5 formation pre-play.


The Jets employ a zone-blitz scheme in this situation, rushing Calvin Pryor (the safety), and linebacker Garrett McIntyre, along with all three down-linemen. Pryor immediately gets pressure in the backfield, going unblocked into the pocket; however, Pryor overruns Manning, who steps into the pocket under pressure, and leaves Pryor scrambling. McIntyre, on the other hand, gets into the backfield as well, but also overruns Manning, who has stepped up before McIntyre gets into the backfield. The remainder of the defense looks like this: man coverage on Demaryius, Julius, Sanders, and Hillman, and short hook/flat zones on the outside. While there was solid coverage on DT, Sanders, and Hillman, Jets' third-year linebacker Demario Davis abandons his assignment on Julius, momentarily rushing the passer, before scrambling to cover Thomas in man coverage. Either it was a mixed up assignment by Davis, or he was counting on Thomas staying in as a blocker, allowing him to rush the passer; either way, Manning did not have sufficient space to throw to Julius, as he was focused on avoiding the sack from Pryor. After one of Manning's patented scramble-for-dear-life moments, Demaryius was able to gain a couple inches of separation in the middle of the field, where Peyton was able to dump a pass to him for the score.


Touchdown #2:

4 remaining for Favre's all-time record, 42 remaining to break last year's single-season record

Receiver: Julius Thomas

Quarter/Time: 2nd Quarter/0:27

Down/Distance: 2nd and 10, NYJ 22 yard line (22-yard score)

On 2nd-and-10 from the Jets' 22-yard line, Manning threw his second touchdown pass of the day, one that was by far his nicest touchdown pass of the day, and possibly of the entire season. The Broncos lined up with 11-personnel; Julius lined up wide right, Emmanuel Sanders lined up on the inside left slot, Welker lined up as the outside left slot, and Demaryius Thomas was split out wide on the left-hand side of the offensive formation. Manning took the snap from shotgun on the play, with Ronnie Hillman to his right in the backfield. The New York Jets lined up in a 4-2-5 wide nickel formation, with four down-linemen, two linebackers, and five defensive backs; DBs lined up five yards off of Julius, Demaryius, and Welker, with a safety eight yards off of Emmanuel Sanders, and a deep safety in the middle of the field.


Off the snap, the Jets dropped into zone coverage with a base four-man rush. The Broncos' offensive line gave adequate time for routes to develop, specifically Julius Thomas' deep post route. Thomas drove the man in the deep left zone just far enough wide, and made his cut just narrowly enough under the safety in the middle zone, and Manning (under pressure up the middle) stepped up and made a pinpoint throw into the narrow window. Thomas' touchdown reception made it eight on the season, becoming the first tight end ever to have eight touchdown receptions in the first five games of the season.


Touchdown #3:

3 remaining for Favre's all-time record, 41 remaining to break last year's single-season record

Receiver: Julius Thomas

Quarter/Time: 3rd Quarter/8:11

Down/Distance: 1st and 4, NYJ 4 yard line (4-yard score)

On the third touchdown of the day, the Broncos lined up in 12-personnel, with both tight ends lined up as wide receivers; Julius Thomas lined up as the right wide receiver, while Jacob Tamme was the left outside slot receiver. Ronnie Hillman was the lone running back, lined up seven yards behind the LOS, Demaryius Thomas was the outside left wide receiver, and Emmanuel Sanders lined up as the inside left slot receiver. The Jets showed a 3-4-4 base defense, with a tight three-man front, two linebackers outside the tackles, two linebackers over the guards, and all four defensive backs lined up opposite receivers.


On the snap of the ball, the Jets rushed three, while manning up on all four receivers, and dropping into a four-man zone with all four of the linebackers. After having talked to Julius prior to the snap, and clearly liking the match-up he has on the outside against Kyle Wilson, Manning takes a three-step drop and hits Thomas on a slant route in the end-zone. Without a deep safety to provide help over the middle, and the linebackers in underneath zone coverage, the corner is helpless against the slant once Julius establishes inside presence. As Julius so kindly put it after scoring the touchdown "It's so f***ing easy".



With two touchdowns to Julius Thomas, and a third to Demaryius Thomas, Peyton Manning is within three touchdowns of Brett Favre's all-time record. Manning has thrown for three or more touchdowns 88 times in regular season games throughout his career, 24 of which have come in a Broncos uniform. The Broncos quarterback has never faced the 49ers during his tenure in Denver, but in four games against the Niners, he's thrown for three touchdowns on one occasion; in fact, San Francisco is one of the few teams that Manning has a negative TD-INT ratio against in his career (5 TDs, 6 INTs). That being said, if Peyton continues on his current pace of 0.75 touchdowns per quarter, he'll surpass Favre's record in the fourth quarter of the Broncos' Week Seven game against the 49ers, and he's on pace to tie the record early in the third quarter of the game. Through five games, Peyton is on pace for 48 touchdowns this season still, and will need 3.73 touchdowns per game for the remainder of the season to surpass his single-season record from 2013.


Current TD Count

This Time Last Year (2013)

On Pace For

% of Last Year's Total