Peyton Manning broke the NFL's all-time touchdown record just like he's played the quarterback position for 17 seasons, with cold-blooded efficiency and a minimum of drama.
Manning entered the game needing three scores to break the record. He did that by halftime, and wound up sitting out the entire fourth quarter in a 42-17 rout by the Broncos over San Francisco. Manning connected with Demaryius Thomas for an 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter against the 49ers for his 509th career touchdown pass, passing Brett Favre to set the all-time record. (Favre immediately congratulated Manning on Twitter.)
"Well it's quite an honor," Mannning said immediately following Sunday Night Football, "and like you said, I do have great appreciation for the quarterbacks that have played this game throughout the years, and so I'm honored just to play the position.
"It's very humbling. It's taken a lot of hard work. A lot of people have helped me to this point."
It was a fitting record-breaker. The ball wobbled just a bit, but it was perfectly placed to Thomas, who dragged his feet for six. Manning reached the mark in his 246th game, which is 56 games faster than Favre. Manning later extended the record by connecting with Thomas again for No. 510 on a beautiful 40-yard strike past double coverage.
Manning's touchdowns showed off his varied skillset, which only seems to improve as his arm strength diminishes. Emmanuel Sanders caught a 3-yard strike on Denver's first drive, and Wes Welker got deep for a 39-yard TD on the third play of Denver's second drive. Like so many milestone touchdowns before it, Manning's throw to Welker was preceded by a pump fake. Niners cornerback Tramaine Brock bit, letting Welker get deep.
Manning finished with just as many touchdowns (four) as incompletions on the night, racking up 318 yards on only 26 attempts. Three years removed from a lost season due to a neck injury that appeared career-threatening, Manning has tossed 19 touchdowns and three interceptions on the season. On Thursday night, he'll face Philip Rivers' Chargers in a huge division game between two top quarterbacks. If Manning wins again, we'll start hearing about him as a leading MVP candidate. That is, unless voters are too bored of voting for him every other year.