Denver • Looking ahead to a distant NFL future, maybe 50, 60 or 70 years from now, an NFL quarterback might be asked about the Peyton Manning record he just broke.
Providing that quarterback is not one of the 15 or 20 Manning passing descendants to come through the league, he better know Peyton’s number.
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The Peyton Manning of 2013 is playing at a historic level. He conjured up the likes of Y.A. Tittle and Joe Kapp by throwing for seven touchdown passes in the season opener. He and his Broncos are on the kind of dominant winning streak that recalls Sid Luckman and the Chicago Bears of the 1940s.
After throwing four more touchdown passes in the Broncos’ 52-20 pasting of Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles on a spectacular late-September Sunday afternoon at Sports Authority Field, Manning reached an incremental touchdown record that passed the likes of Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, Dandy Don Meredith and Kurt "Grocery Bagger" Warner.
Manning has thrown 16 touchdown passes with zero interceptions through four games. Not since Milt Plum in 1960 has a quarterback started the season with 16 scoring throws without an interception. The difference is, it took Plum 10 games to throw his 16. And he threw an interception later in game 10.
"I’m, throwing out 16 as his number — is that right?" Manning said correctly. "My brother Cooper and I used to play a lot of trivia when we used to take road trips with my dad. So Cooper would be proud that I did know Plum."
Before Manning signed on to play with the Broncos before the 2012 season, he already was considered one of the all-time best quarterbacks.
In the 20 regular-season games since he’s donned bright orange, Manning has been absurd, leading the Broncos to 17 victories on 53 touchdown passes against only 11 interceptions. He’s gone to a level through four games this year that not even the greatest of the greats have gone before.
"What do you need to say about it?" said Broncos defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson before turning to his partner Terrance Knighton. "What do you say about it?"
"I mean, if you don’t score," Knighton said, "we’re going to score."
Imagine the pressure that was on quarterback Michael Vick and the Eagles’ offense. They had it going for a while, drawing within 14-13 early in the second quarter. But the Eagles stopped scoring. And the Broncos scored the next 38 points.
Manning didn’t play in the fourth quarter Sunday, as backup Brock Osweiler got some playing time with the Broncos up 49-13.
The 52 points was one of several franchise records the Broncos set.
"I did not know that," said Manning, showing an apparent trivia weakness beyond the national realm. "Might have to give Thunder an IV after that one."
The Broncos’ four-legged gelding has been busy running around the field after Denver touchdowns since his team brought in Manning to lead. The victory Sunday was the Broncos’ 15th in a row during the regular season, breaking the franchise record on a day when Tom Nalen was inducted into the Ring of Fame. Nalen was the starting center on the 1997-98 Broncos that won 14 straight.
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