It was a first quarter touchdown pass to tight end Julius Thomas against the Arizona Cardinals that made Peyton Manning one of only two players in NFL history to eclipse 500 career passing touchdowns. He went on to put up video game-esque numbers throughout the rest of the game, and by the end of the fourth quarter, he had thrown for a single-game career high of 479 yards with an average of 15.5 yards per pass attempt, had completed 66% of his passes, totaled four touchdown passes with two interceptions, and had a quarterback rating of 110.2. Officially announcing his retirement last year, Manning had countless astonishing statistical performances throughout the course of his record-setting NFL career. So, how did his performance stack up against some of the other great performances of his career?
First, we’ll start by saying that narrowing down the top statistical performances of Peyton Manning’s career is no simple task. In doing so, we examined his completion percentage, yards, touchdowns, interceptions, quarterback rating, yards per passing attempt and, to a small extent, the magnitude of the win. With that being said, here is a look at 15 of the top statistical performances, in chronological order, of Peyton Manning’s NFL career.
September 25, 2000 — Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
Manning lit up the Jaguars to the tune of 440 yards and four touchdowns in this 43-14 win for the Colts. He completed 63.9% of his passes for 12.2 yards per pass attempt and a 143.3 quarterback rating.
October 22, 2000 — New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts
Manning was nearly perfect in this 30-23 win for the Colts. He completed 80% of his passes for 268 yards and 13.4 yards per pass attempt. For the game, Manning had three touchdown passes and a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3.
November 10, 2002 – Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles
This is another game in which Manning finished the day with a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. He completed 78% of his passes for 319 yards, averaged 13.87 yards per pass attempt, and threw three touchdown passes in the Colts’ 35-13 win.
September 28, 2003 — Indianapolis Colts at New Orleans Saints
Manning was nearly perfect again in this Sunday Night Football matchup against his father Archie’s former team that the Colts won 55-21. He again had a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 while completing 80% of his passes for 12.56 yards per attempt. The five-time MVP threw six touchdown passes, three of them to Marvin Harrison, and had 314 yards through the air in this game.
November 25, 2004 — Indianapolis Colt at Detroit Lions
Manning was thoroughly dominant in this game. He completed 82% of his passes for 236 yards and six touchdowns. His quarterback rating was 141.4 and he averaged 8.43 yards per pass attempt.
January 4, 2004 — Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts
This was the first of several dominating performances Manning had as a member of the Colts, his old team, against the Broncos, his current team. This 41-10 Wild Card Playoff win was, up to this point, statistically the best playoff performance in Manning’s career. He had a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3, completed 84.6% of his passes for 14.5 yards per pass attempt, and finished with 377 yards and five touchdown passes.
January 11, 2004 — Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs
Manning had two of his best performances in the playoffs in back-to-back weeks. He led the Colts to a 38-31 win against the Chiefs by completing 73.3% of his passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns. His quarterback rating was 138.7 and he averaged 10.13 yards per pass attempt.
January 9, 2005 — Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts
Manning and the Colts again humiliated his current team 49-24 in this wild-card playoff game. He completed 81.8% of his passes averaging 13.88 yards per pass attempt. The 13-time Pro Bowl selection finished with 458 yards, four touchdown passes to one interception, and had a 145.7 quarterback rating.
October 29, 2006 — Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
As you can see, Manning played some of his best football as a member of the Indianapolis Colts against the Denver Broncos. In this game, a 34-31 win for the Colts, Manning completed 82.1% of his passes for 345 yards and three touchdown passes. He averaged 8.85 yards per pass attempt and finished with a 129.2 quarterback rating.
January 24, 2010 — New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
Manning was nearly unstoppable in this 30-17 AFC Championship win over the New York Jets. He threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns while completing 66.7% of his pass attempts. His quarterback rating was 123.6 and he averaged 9.67 yards per pass attempt.
September 5, 2013 — Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos
Manning and the Broncos sent a message in this season-opening 49-27 win. The Broncos were out for revenge following an early playoff exit at the hands of the Ravens the year before. Manning threw for a record seven touchdown passes to go with 462 yards and a 141.1 quarterback rating. He completed 64.3% of his passes for an average of 11.0 yards per pass attempt.
September 29, 2013 — Philadelphia Eagles at Denver Broncos
This was another one of Manning’s stellar performances during his 2013 MVP-winning season. He had his way with the Eagles defense completing 82.4% of his passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns. He had an impressive quarterback rating of 146.0 and averaged 9.62 yards per pass attempt.
November 10, 2013 — Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
Manning and the Broncos had the lead in this game from start to finish en route to winning 28-20. Manning completed 69.4% of his passes for 9.17 yards per attempt and a 135.2 quarterback rating. For the game, he totaled 330 yards passing with four touchdown passes.
January 19, 2014 — New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
Manning and the Broncos silenced a lot of critics in this 26-16 AFC Championship win over the Patriots. The 10-time All-Pro quarterback completed 74.4% of his passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns. He had a quarterback rating of 118.4 and averaged 9.30 yards per pass attempt for the day.
October 19, 2014 – San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos
In this game, Manning broke Brett Favre’s NFL record for most career touchdown passes when he connected with Demaryius Thomas for the 509th scoring strike of his legendary career. By the end of the game, Manning had completed 22 out of 26 pass attempts for 318 yards, four touchdowns, and a whopping 12.23 yards per attempt.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.