QB Peyton Manning: Cleft lip star makes history.

It was a special night for the Special Needs community. Bronco QB Peyton Manning threw Touchdown Pass number 509 to become NFL’s all-time touchdown king.

Cleft Lip steeled star for later surgeries.

QB Manning  in business suit with fan in 2006

Manning with fan,’06 Chbradshaw

Here’s how the Denver Post covered it.

 Cellphones were raised in unison at 7:40 p.m. The cheapest tickets for this game were priced at $301 in section 507, the highest $12,000 on the 308 club level. No one among the 77,047 standing fans was going anywhere at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday night.

It didn’t matter who you were. You wanted to record Peyton Manning recording history.

The Drive forever defines the Broncos. No matter what happens over the next four months in this team’s Super Bowl quest, the Broncos will always have The Pass.

Peyton Manning riddled San Francisco in prime time, even playing the comic foil after breaking Brett Favre’s mark of 508 touchdown passes in the Broncos’ 42-17 thrashing with No. 509 and No. 510 among his four touchdown passes.

In a postgame interview with NBC, Manning said of his record: “Quite an honor. I do have an appreciation for the quarterbacks who have played this game over the years. A lot of people helped get me to this point. I’m very honored.”

Sixteen-plus years after the Indianapolis Colts made him the first overall pick, Manning’s horsepower continues to amaze. Manning didn’t chase history Sunday. He stalked it. With the Broncos leading 14-3 in the second quarter, Manning stared into the south end zone, analyzing the 49ers’ defense. He took the snap, looked right and fired a dart to Demaryius Thomas for an 8-yard score just inside the pylon.

Thomas walked toward Manning with the historic ball held out as a gift. Manning reached for it, and he became the little brother in his New Orleans backyard all over again. Thomas flipped it to Emmanuel Sanders, who taunted Manning, then tossed it to Wes Welker, who flung it to Julius Thomas.

In Manning’s made-for-movie performance, even the joy was scripted.

Denver is a city, Colorado a state, that has witnessed two Super Bowl victories and enough fourth-quarterback comebacks to recognize greatness and never hesitate to let the imagination wander. Manning makes everything seem possible.


  • Interactive database: Peyton Manning’s career by the numbers

His records resonate, because they are framed by rolled-up-sleeves work ethic and adversity (four neck surgeries). He finished 22-of-26 passing for 318 yards.

The 509 football heads to Canton, Ohio. The Pro Football Hall of Fame asked for Manning’s glove on his passing hand, but he prefers to use it a few more weeks.

“It’s just an unbelievable feat,” general manager John Elway said. “I am planning on him having a lot more touchdown passes.”

The appreciation Sunday deepened because of the opponent. NBC wanted Manning to eclipse Favre’s mark — “That’s why I am here,” announcer Bob Costas said last week at Dove Valley — but the fans wanted the Broncos to show they could step into the octagon with an NFC beast and not blink.

They were good enough that backup quarterback Brock Osweiler entered in the fourth quarter. What the game possessed in significance, it lacked in suspense.

The Broncos scored on their first two possessions. Manning went 5-for-5 for 54 yards on the first drive, culminating with Sanders’ first touchdown as a Bronco. Manning’s next two completions resulted in a two-touchdown bulge as Welker jumped into the pylon in the north end zone for a 39-yard touchdown after losing Tramaine Brock on an out-and-go.

Only Favre’s record remained. Manning soon had that, too.

The record doesn’t change the Broncos’ goals. It just sharpens Denver’s focus. The Broncos are knee-deep in a three-week gauntlet, next facing the rival San Diego Chargers on Thursday night.

INTERACTIVE: Breaking down all of Peyton Manning’s career TD passes

Lost in Manning’s march, the defense now shows fangs. The Broncos picked off San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick — Aqib Talib netted his second interception — sacked him six times, including three by DeMarcus Ware, and generally made him miserable.

From the fan with the painted face and plastic horses on his shoulder to the gentleman with orange and blue overalls and a neon-blue mohawk wig, this was a night no one wanted to miss.

Manning showed why when it comes to his games, you should never pass them up.

 “Honored and humbled”

And USA Today’s coverage.DENVER — Peyton Manning now stands alone as the NFL’s all-time touchdown king.

The Denver Broncos’ 38-year-old quarterback threw touchdown No. 509 of his career Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers to break Brett Favre’s career record.

The record-breaker went to receiver Demaryius Thomas, at 7:42 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, with three minutes and nine seconds remaining in the second quarter to give the Broncos a 21-3 lead in a game Denver would go on to win 42-17.

Thomas, fellow receivers Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Julius Thomas — Manning’s stellar stable of pass catchers — then engaged in a pre-planned game of keep-away with the record-setting ball before finally letting Manning get his hands on it one more time before it heads to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For a moment, it appeared the NFL’s best prankster had been punked on his own big night.

“I can’t believe they actually did it,” Manning said. “We sort of joked about it during the week. I’m a little bit hurt by the fact that they could do that, that they’re kind of picking on me.”

 Broncos receivers played ‘keep away’ with Peyton Manning’s record-setting touchdown ball

But no, this, like so much of Manning’s Hall of Fame career, was diligently crafted.

“He actually planned it himself,” Demaryius Thomas said.

Planned or not, it was a special, silly moment for one of the NFL’s all-time greatest players.

After Manning finally secured the milestone ball, he was mobbed on the Broncos’ sideline. Head coach John Fox pulled his quarterback into a bear hug, and more players than Manning could count slapped him on the helmet and shoulder pads as Sports Authority Field at Mile High public address announcer Alan Roach alerted the crowd to the milestone.

“Broncos fans, you have just witnessed history,” Roach said, introducing a pre-taped video tribute that featured messages from Favre, Broncos general manager John Elway and several Broncos teammates.

Bell: Peyton Manning’s consistency the driver behind record-breaking moments

But the fans here didn’t need the reminder. They arrived well aware of the impending history, and the tension grew after he tossed career touchdown No. 507 on the Broncos’ opening drive and the record-tying touchdown later in the first quarter.

Those rapid scores left little doubt that the record would be broken against the 49ers. But when would it happen? And who would be the lucky receiver to catch it?

As the Broncos marched toward the south end zone, flash bulbs from cell phone cameras popped at every snap. They recorded an incomplete pass to Julius Thomas in the end zone, an ugly sack after Manning stumbled backwards and landed on his backside, before, finally, the touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in the right front corner of the end zone.

Manning entered Sunday night’s game needing two touchdowns to tie Favre and three to break the record. Touchdown No. 507 went to Sanders and No. 508 to Welker — the first touchdown catch of the season for both receivers.

 Broncos ‘putting it all together’ to re-assert dominance

Manning would extend his record to 510 with another toss to Demaryius Thomas in the third quarter, a 40-yard bomb one play after cornerback Aqib Talib intercepted San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. That touchdown was the 30th between

Manning and Thomas, the most of any Bronco, and the fifth-most of any of Manning’s teammates.

Manning’s longtime Indianapolis Colts teammate Marvin Harrison caught 112 of Manning’s touchdowns, followed by Reggie Wayne with 67.

But so many of those touchdowns with the Colts feel like distant history now, part of the first chapter, albeit a long one, of Manning’s career.

That Manning has reached Favre’s record so quickly, in his 246th game — 56 fewer games than it took Favre — is a testament to the career rejuvenation he experienced in Denver.


To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.

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