Peyton Manning needed 15 games to throw 51 touchdown passes this season.
Think about that. Even in an era when gaudy passing statistics are the norm, Manning's production has been jaw-dropping. Not bad for a 37-year-old guy with a jacked-up neck.
History was made in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans on Sunday. Manning's fourth touchdown of the day was dropped perfectly into the waiting hands of Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas. It was Thomas who was on the receiving end of Manning's first touchdown of 2013 as well.
A subdued celebration with teammates followed.
"It was very special," Manning said. "Very rarely during an NFL game do you get to have a moment like that."
Tom Brady threw 50 touchdown passes in 2007, breaking Manning's mark of 49 set three seasons earlier. Now Manning has the record back.
"I think it's a unique thing and a neat thing to be a part of NFL history, even though it may be temporary," he said. "So I'm going to enjoy it as long as it lasts, and hopefully the Hall of Fame will send the ball back once somebody throws for more."
Peyton Manning through the yearsPeyton Manning's 51st touchdown broke the single-season record. Take a look at the best photos from his career.
Thomas dropped the football on the turf after his score, unaware it was Manning's record breaker. Eric Decker picked it up and hid the ball under his jersey.
"It wouldn't have surprised me if Julius would have went and handed it to some babe up in the stands, trying to get her phone number in exchange for the ball," Manning joked. "That would be right up Julius' alley."
Manning looks like an uncle, and uses "babe" in casual conversation like an uncle, too. But he doesn't play like one. Manning may need another Super Bowl to secure his legacy as the best quarterback ever. But what he achieved this season shouldn't get overlooked -- no matter what happens next month.