On December 27, 2004, in a game against the San Diego Chargers, quarterback Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts finds wide receiver Brandon Stokely in the end zone for his 49th touchdown pass of the season, breaking the previous National Football League (NFL) single-season record held by Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins.
Born in 1976, Manning is the son of the former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, who played for the New Orleans Saints, the Houston Oilers and the Minnesota Vikings during the 1970s and early 1980s. His younger brother, Eli, plays quarterback for the New York Giants. After a stellar college career at the University of Tennessee, Peyton Manning was selected by the Colts as the first pick in the 1998 NFL draft. From the beginning, Manning performed at a consistently high level, passing for at least 3,000 yards in every season and becoming the first player to top 4,000 for six consecutive years. After the Colts finished 3-13 in his rookie season, Manning turned that record around, leading his team to American Football Conference (AFC) division titles in 1999 and 2003.
The 2004 season proved to be Manning’s best yet, as evidenced by his record-breaking night on December 27 before 57,330 fans at Indianapolis’ RCA Dome. He began poorly, fumbling twice and throwing an interception over the first two and a half quarters. In the middle of the third quarter, he completed a touchdown pass to fullback James Mungro and tied Marino’s mark. Finally, with one minute remaining in the game and the Colts down by eight points, Manning fooled the Chargers with a post play and threw to Stokely, who caught the ball in the end zone and left Manning alone at the top of the record book. The Colts got a two-point conversion to tie the score and a 30-yard field goal in overtime to win 34-31. Manning was later selected as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and the Offensive Player of the Year for 2004.
Manning’s record stood until 2007, when Tom Brady of the New England Patriots threw 50 touchdowns in a single season.