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Manning Up: The countdown is over, history was made, and now it's time to start counting up

Peyton Manning made history last night, breaking one of the most prestigious all-time sports records with his 509th career touchdown pass. Below, an in-depth breakdown of each of Manning's four Week Seven touchdown passes.

Dustin Bradford

Recap of Last Week

Last week, Peyton Manning moved within three touchdowns of the all-time record with three touchdowns against the New York Jets. Manning ended last week on pace to break the all-time touchdown record in Week Seven against the 49ers, averaging 0.75 touchdowns per quarter of football. With a prime-time game on the horizon, the stage was set for something incredible.

Touchdown #1

2 remaining for Favre's all-time record, 40 remaining to break last year's single-season record

Receiver: Emmanuel Sanders

Quarter/Time: 1st Quarter/ 8:34

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

The first touchdown of the day was not nearly as special as the next two, but it was a stepping stone on the way to the others, and was a special one for Emmanuel Sanders, who caught his first touchdown pass as a Bronco. The Broncos ran this play out of 11-personnel, with Julius Thomas lined up wide right, Wes Welker in the outside right slot, Emmanuel Sanders in the inside right slot, and Demaryius Thomas wide left; Juwan Thompson was the lone running back, lined up to the left of Manning, in shotgun formation. The 49ers' defense was in a dime formation, with three down-linemen, two linebackers, and six defensive backs in the game.


Off the snap of the ball, the Niners sent four pass-rushers at the quarterback, and dropped seven men into coverage. Demaryius ran a fade to the corner of the end-zone, which was Manning's first read; however, Thomas was locked down in double coverage by two 49ers defensive backs. Julius Thomas, who was on the other side of the field, ran a deep in route, but was also in double coverage. Prioritizing the Broncos' two main red-zone threats, San Francisco stuck single-man coverage on Wes Welker, Juwan Thompson, and Emmanuel Sanders. Welker ran a five-yard in route, Thompson ran a slant out of the backfield, and Sanders ran a drag route across the middle of the field.


With Demaryius in double coverage, and experiencing backside pressure due to a lapse in pass protection by Paul Cornick, Peyton was running low on options. That was when the umpire (pictured below) unintentionally set a pick on the defender in coverage on Emmanuel Sanders, who was Manning's second read. Seeing the opening, Manning threw to a wide open Sanders, who reeled in his first touchdown catch of his career in Denver. With the pressure that Manning was experiencing, he likely would have thrown to Sanders anyway, who had a step on his defender; but the pick by the ref made that decision much easier.


Touchdown #2

1 remaining for Favre's all-time record, 39 remaining to break last year's single-season record

Receiver: Wes Welker

Quarter/Time: 1st Quarter/ 3:05

Down/Distance: 2nd and 8, SF 39 yard line (39-yard score)

The Broncos lined up in 11-personnel yet again on the second passing touchdown of the night, the touchdown that would tie Brett Favre's all-time record. Manning lined up in shotgun, with Ronnie Hillman to his left, Demaryius Thomas lined up as the left wide receiver, with Welker in the slot on his side, and Andre Caldwell lined up as the right wide receiver; Julius Thomas lined up in the traditional tight end position, in a three-point stance on right end of the offensive line. On the other side of the field, the 49ers defense lined up in their base 3-4 defense, with two deep safeties.


The 49ers blitzed two linebackers, in addition to their base rush of three linemen, while the two remaining linebackers played zone in the flats. Peyton took the snap and immediately looked left, faking a screen throw to Demaryius Thomas. Thomas sold the route that he runs so often, which caused the two San Francisco defensive backs on that side of the field (Tramaine Brock and Eric Reid) to bite down on the fake. Wes Welker, meanwhile, was running an out-and-up route on the same side of the field, left wide open by the pinching defenders. Manning hit him in stride, and Welker was able to beat Antoine Bethea, the safety on the far side of the field, to the end-zone, just grazing the pylon for six.


Touchdown #3

0 remaining for Favre's all-time record, 38 remaining to break last year's single-season record

Receiver: Demaryius Thomas

Quarter/Time: 2nd Quarter/ 3:15

Down/Distance: 3rd and 8, SF 8 yard line (8-yard score)

Manning is, plain and simply, one of the greatest players to ever play the game of football. His instincts, precision, dedication to, and passion for the game are what sets him apart, and this record is just one of many incredible accomplishments in Manning's career. Fran Tarkenton put it best in his congratulatory message to Manning following the record-breaking play- "People love to debate, 'Who is the greatest quarterback, the greatest player?' It's impossible to compare across all the generations and eras. But I know this, nobody can ever leave Peyton Manning out of that discussion about who is the greatest quarterback."

On Peyton's record-breaking touchdown, the Broncos lined up in 11-personnel again, with Ronnie Hillman lined up wide left, Emmanuel Sanders in the left slot, Julius Thomas in a three-point stance on the left end of the offensive line, Wes Welker in the right slot, Demaryius Thomas wide right, and Peyton Manning alone in shotgun. The 49ers countered with a dime defense again, with six defensive backs on the field to combat the four-wide set of the Broncos.


The 49ers sent a three-man rush on the play, dropping into Cover-2 man defense; two linebackers dropped into zone over the middle, with two deep safeties, and four defensive backs in man coverage on the four wide-outs. The three receivers to Peyton's left, including Julius, Sanders, and Hillman, ran 10-yard curl routes into the front of the end-zone; meanwhile, Wes Welker ran a corner route out of the right slot, and Demaryius ran a 10-yard out, also toeing the front edge of the end-zone with his route. Manning led Demaryius to the sideline with his throw, away from Tramaine Brock's coverage; Thomas made a spectacular effort to make the catch and get two feet in-bounds, capping off Peyton's incredible record.


Enough can't be said about how special the feat that Manning accomplished last night, so it was too fitting that the record-setting touchdown came on such a beautifully-placed throw and spectacular catch. Congratulations, Peyton, we've been lucky to be able to watch you play this game.

Touchdown #4

Two more touchdowns than any other QB all-time, 37 remaining to break last year's single-season record

Receiver: Demaryius Thomas

Quarter/Time: 3rd Quarter/ 11:55

Down/Distance: 1st and 10, SF 40 yard line (40-yard score)

Manning's pursuit of Favre has come to a conclusion, but his pursuit of his own single-season record from 2013 continues, and his touchdown total will continue to rise. Therefore, the "Manning Up" touchdown tracker series will continue, despite Manning having accomplished the record on Sunday night.

Manning's fourth touchdown of the night, and second to Demaryius Thomas, came in an 11-personnel set, just like the previous three. Manning lined up in shotgun with Hillman behind him, Julius Thomas lined up on the left end of the line in a three-point stance, Emmanuel Sanders wide left, Demaryius Thomas wide right, and Wes Welker in the right slot. The 49ers were in a base 3-4 defense, with corners lined up five yards off the receivers, and both safeties in deep coverage.


Off the snap, the 49ers sent their three down-linemen after the quarterback, while spreading four linebackers in zone coverage across the width of the field, manning up on the two outside receivers, with two deep safeties over the top for support.


Off of play-action, Demaryius Thomas ran a seam route down the right side of the field, establishing inside position on former Bronco corner Perrish Cox, at which point it was game-over for Cox, who had no hope of stopping Demaryius without drawing a flag. Wes Welker's deep in route drew the attention of the safety on the left side of the defense, pulling him out of deep coverage, and Emmanuel Sanders' fly route on the opposite side of the field kept Antoine Bethea frozen long enough that he could not make a play on the ball. Manning dropped a perfect throw right into Demaryius' arms, with his receiver in full-stride, right in between the coverage of Cox and Bethea.



Peyton Manning now holds the all-time record for most career touchdown passes in the NFL, one of the most prestigious records in all of sports. From now on, Peyton will be piling onto that record, putting it further and further out of reach for would-be record-breakers of the future. Manning will still continue his pursuit of last year's single-season touchdown record as well, and with four more added to the total last night, Manning's TD pace for 2014 has improved to 3.17 per game, or 0.79 per quarter. If he continues that pace, Peyton will wind up with 50-51 touchdowns at the end of the 2014 season, coming up four short of his 2013 record; if he wishes to break the record, he'll have to average 3.7 scores per game for the remainder of the 2014 season. Manning has averaged 3.18 TDs per game in 11 Thursday night starts, so Thursday night's match-up against the Chargers may have him back on track to catch last year's totals when Week Eight is said and done.

Week Current TD Count This Time Last Year (2013) On Pace For % of Last Year's Total
1 3 7 48 42.86%
2 6 9 48 66.67%
3 8 12 43 66.67%
5 12 16 48 75.00%
6 15 20 48 75.00%
7 19 22 51 86.36%