At one point in this game, it was 16-13 in the 3rd quarter and it looked like the Denver Broncos might be in a little bit of trouble. They had failed to convert a number of red zone opportunities, and it looked like the woeful Houston Texans, headed by the much-maligned Matt Schaub at QB, stood to make them pay for it.
Well, from there Denver ran off 21 unanswered points and Peyton Manning threw three more touchdown passes to break the single season NFL record with 51 (and counting). The Broncos won by a final score of 37-13.
The historic TD was a 25 yard strike to tight end Julius Thomas. Earlier in the game Manning hit his star wide-outs for TDs, with Demaryius Thomas catching one and Eric Decker catching two (including the record-tying 50th TD). Manning’s final numbers on the day: 32/51, 400 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Manning spent more time on his back than he would have liked, taking a number of shots from J.J. Watt, but in the end it was still a clean game and a blowout victory.
The Broncos remain in control of the #1 overall seed in the AFC with the victory. With the Kansas City Chiefs falling to the Indianapolis Colts at home today, Denver clinches a first round bye and the AFC West title. Whether or not Manning will be out there in week 17 to chase Drew Brees‘s single season yardage record (he is 266 yards away) will depend on the results of the New England Patriots game today against the Baltimore Ravens.
If New England wins, Denver still has to play next week to win and clinch homefield throughout the playoffs. But if New England falls, Denver will have nothing to play for next week and will therefore have a decision to make about their star quarterback. That’s for later. For now, today is a celebration of Manning and another individual accomplishment.