Quarterback and receiver are two of the most symbiotic positions in the entire game of football. The best wideouts and tight ends make signal calling look downright easy, while a competent quarterback can deliver the pigskin exactly where it needs to go. On the flip side, the NFL has been littered with receivers and tight ends who spent their primes without anyone half decent at signal-caller, and even the most skilled quarterbacks are at a loss when they don’t have competent receivers. You can ask Tom Brady circa 2013 about that.
That said, different NFL quarterback-receiver combinations result in different things, and while some receivers are best used as all-purpose targets, and some of them checkdown safety valves, what’s being ranked today are the duos that put the most points on the board — the pairs that are responsible for the most successful touchdown connections in NFL history. Some are still going, and some are Hall of Famers, but all of them are on the shortlist, if only as a pair, as some of the greatest the league has ever seen. (Stats are current through Super Bowl 56.)
10. Jim Kelly & Andre Reed – 71 touchdowns
While Jim Kelly and Andre Reed may have never won a Super Bowl, they took the Bills to four straight title games during their 11-year run together in Buffalo and hooked up for 71 touchdowns, 65 in the regular season and six in the postseason.
T7. Aaron Rodgers & Davante Adams – 76 touchdowns
For several years, Aaron Rodgers was in the top 10 on this list with Jordy Nelson as those two connected for 70 touchdowns from 2008 to 2017, 65 in the regular season, and another five in the playoffs. But while Rodgers remains, Nelson has been replaced by Davante Adams, who has now caught 76 touchdown passes from the Super Bowl 45 MVP, 68 in the regular season, and eight during the NFL postseason.
T7. Drew Brees & Marques Colston – 76 touchdowns
Throughout the course of his career, Drew Brees has thrown touchdown passes to quite a few receivers. But he never found anyone in the end zone more than Marques Colston. Colston was a rookie when Brees came to the New Orleans Saints in 2006 and over the next 10 years, the two hooked up for 76 touchdowns.
T7. Peyton Manning & Reggie Wayne – 76 touchdowns
Peyton Manning had a lot of weapons during his years with the Indianapolis Colts, one of the biggest being Reggie Wayne. Manning threw 67 regular-season touchdown passes to Wayne and tacked on nine more in the playoffs.
6. Ben Roethlisberger & Antonio Brown – 78 touchdowns
While Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown may not have always seen eye to eye, they didn’t let that get in the way of becoming one of the highest-scoring combos in history. In nine seasons together with the Steelers, the two hooked up for 74 touchdowns in the regular season and an additional four in the postseason.
5. Dan Marino & Mark Clayton – 82 touchdowns
Dan Marino and Mark Clayton came into the NFL together in 1983 and quickly became one of the top quarterback-receiver tandems in the game. The two spent 10 seasons together, hooking up for 82 touchdowns before Clayton took his talents to the Green Bay Packers for his final season in 1993.
4. Philip Rivers & Antonio Gates – 90 touchdowns
For the first three years of his career, Antonio Gates caught the majority of his touchdown passes from Drew Brees. But when the Chargers decided to go in a different direction, he spent the rest of his career catching touchdowns from Philip Rivers. The two hooked up for 90 scores before Gates called it quits after 16 seasons, all but one coming in the regular season.
3. Steve Young & Jerry Rice – 92 touchdowns
After catching 67 touchdown passes from the great Joe Montana, Jerry Rice caught an additional 92 touchdown passes from Steve Young. Young spent years behind Montana but took over as San Francisco 49ers quarterback in 1993 and promptly led the team to a Super Bowl win in just his second season as a starter. Having the man that many believe to be the greatest wide receiver in history to throw to certainly didn’t hurt.
2. Tom Brady & Rob Gronkowski – 105 touchdowns
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are the only duo on this list to have hooked up for touchdowns with two different teams. TB12 hit Gronk for 78 regular-season scores and an additional 12 in the postseason with the New England Patriots.
The two hooked up six times in the regular season during their first campaign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 and then connected for a first-quarter TD in Super Bowl 55, which broke a crazy TB12 futility streak in the NFL title game. The two connected again in the second quarter as the Bucs rolled to a 31-9 victory.
Brady and Gronk connected for six touchdowns during the 2021 regular season and also hooked up during the Bucs’ Wild Card matchup against the Eagles, bringing their total to 105.
1. Peyton Manning & Marvin Harrison – 114 touchdowns
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the tandem of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison are at the top of this list. The two spent 11 seasons together with the Indianapolis Colts and were the most dangerous duo in the NFL, at least in the regular season anyway. While the 112 regular-season touchdowns might not be a shocking number, the two only hooked up twice in the postseason.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference