Indianapolis Colts fans celebrate afte quarterback Peyton Manning threw his 49th touchdown of the season, breaking the record held by Dan Marino, in the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers in Indianapolis, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2004. The Colts defeated the Chargers 34-31 in overtime.
AP Photo/Michael Conroy
INDIANAPOLIS Peyton Manning broke one of football's most hallowed records, and his reward was praise from one of his boyhood idols.
Manning broke Dan Marino's single-season touchdown pass record when he threw his 48th and 49th of the season on Sunday against San Diego. And he did it in dramatic fashion, rallying the Colts from a 31-16 fourth-quarter deficit to win 34-31 in overtime.
Right after the game he got to speak with Marino, the player he grew up idolizing as a young quarterback in Louisiana. Marino was in the CBS studio for the NFL Today, where he serves as a commentator.
''I was getting all emotional talking to him, I can't believe it,'' a choked-up Manning said. ''Dan, besides my father, was always my favorite player growing up after my dad retired. I would have been content if I would have stayed tied. I would have shared that record.''
Manning hit Brandon Stokley on a 21-yard post pattern with 56 seconds to play to break the record, sending the home crowd into a frenzy. Edgerrin James' run for a 2-point conversion tied the score at 31.
Per Manning's request, the game was not stopped, and Manning strode calmly off the field before being mobbed by teammates on the sideline. A few minutes later, Manning led the Colts on a drive in overtime that led to Mike Vanderjagt's winning field goal, clinching the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs.
''I don't care how long you played and how many touchdowns you throw, you'll always remember your comeback wins,'' said his father, Archie, who played quarterback for the Saints and Vikings. ''You remember them. You remember this day and breaking the record of a great player. It was a very special day.''
Manning entered the game with 47 touchdown passes and tied the mark with a 3-yard shovel pass to James Mungro in the third quarter.
Marino threw 48 while guiding the Miami Dolphins to the Super Bowl in 1984, and now Manning is hoping to follow a similar path. The record stood for two decades, and was at one time thought of as untouchable, football's answer to the home run record.
''I held that record for 20 years, and I know in years to come you're going to be really proud of it,'' Marino told Manning in the post-game televised chat.
Just as Roger Maris' mark of 61 homers was shattered by Mark McGwire and then Barry Bonds, it was only a matter of time before Marino's mark fell once Manning got going this season.
Many thought it would take a near flawless season to pass Marino, and Manning has delivered just such a performance. He entered the game with a 123.9 quarterback rating, far superior to Steve Young's season record of 112.8.
He has thrown five touchdown passes in a game three times this season and six against Detroit on Thanksgiving. But his bull-rush on the record slowed to a crawl in recent weeks, with two TD passes against Houston, then just one in a 20-10 win over Baltimore last weekend.
Marino threw 44 touchdowns in 1986, and the closest any player got to his record after that was 41 by Kurt Warner with the St. Louis Rams in 1999.
Everything about the day was dramatic.
Manning's parents were supposed to fly to Indianapolis on Saturday night. But a snow storm in New Orleans canceled their flight. The Mannings then missed their connecting flight in Memphis on Sunday morning and thought they would have to watch the game on television at the airport until Colts owner Jim Irsay sent his private plane to pick them up.
Manning's parents arrived with about 9 minutes to play in the game, just in time to see their son make history, surpassing Marino one of the game's legends.
''What's so special about it is he's passed a great player; maybe one of the greatest players ever to line up under center,'' Archie Manning said. ''He's just been a great friend to Peyton. I know it made Peyton emotional and it kind of makes me emotional too. He's just a great friend of our family and we think a lot of him.''
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