DENVER (CBSNewYork/AP) — Leave it to Peyton Manning to plan his own prank.
After breaking Brett Favre’s NFL record with his 509th touchdown toss, Manning’s teammates played keep-away with his milestone memento, and Manning played right along.
Manning went into the Sunday night showdown two TDs shy of Favre’s record of 508 and finished with four touchdown passes on 22-of-26 passing for 318 yards in just three quarters of work.
He surpassed Favre with an 8-yard strike to Demaryius Thomas just before halftime in Denver’s emphatic 42-17 thrashing of the San Francisco 49ers.
As he went to retrieve the ball, his teammates had some fun.
Thomas tossed the ball over Manning to Emmanuel Sanders, who lobbed it to Wes Welker. From there, Welker dished it back to Sanders, who flipped it to Julius Thomas — all of Manning’s favorite targets getting into the act as Manning ran around like a kid trying to get his lunch sack back.
“Those guys are all great athletes, and my vertical leap isn’t what it used to be. I haven’t played keep-away since I was 8 years old,” Manning said. “That is something I will always remember.”
The Broncos (5-1) had actually talked about doing something like that but Manning said he was surprised his teammates went through with it.
He shouldn’t have been, Demaryius Thomas said, revealing that Manning actually had them practice it Friday.
“It’s easy. You did that when you were kids,” Thomas said. “It’s like keep the ball away from the guy in the middle.”
Come to think of it, Manning said he deserved to get picked on “based on my non-graceful play when I tripped on the play before.”
Manning finally got the ball along with congratulations from his teammates and coaches. The souvenir won’t end up on Manning’s mantle, however — the Pro Football Hall of Fame has a nice spot all ready for it.
“I certainly think about how grateful I am for all the teammates and coaches that I’ve played with and played for throughout my career,” Manning said. “I’ve always been a big fan of quarterbacks, whether it’s Brett Favre or Dan Marino or John Elway. I’m very honored and humbled to join a pretty unique club.”
“I want to say congratulations for breaking the touchdown record,” Favre said in a video message that was played on the scoreboard. “I’m not surprised. You’ve been a wonderful player and I’ve enjoyed watching you play. I’ve enjoyed competing against you. I wish you great success for the rest of the season and the rest of your career.”
Manning had a hand in most of the game’s biggest moments, from Emmanuel Sanders’ first TD catch as a Bronco to Wes Welker’s record-tying 39-yard catch and run against the exasperated 49ers (4-3).
“I’m not sure what their coaches do,” 49ers safety Eric Reid said. “They probably don’t have to do much. When he’s out there on the field, he recognizes the defense and makes audibles, he does it all. You’re playing against a coordinator when he’s out there. He’s definitely one of the best, if not the best ever.”
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