Ahead of the Competition: Manning in 2013 vs. Marino in 1984

Posted on January 9, 2014 at 1:40 PM
Much nonsense has arisen from the false perception regarding the "ease" of breaking single-season passing records. When Dan Marino threw for a then-record 48 touchdown passes in 1984, the record stood for 20 years until Peyton Manning surpassed it by throwing for 49 touchdowns in 2004. The NFL has since experienced a "golden age" of passing, where rule-changes and an influx of quality quarterbacks have led to inflated passing figures. Still, fans need to dig a bit deeper.

When consdering the single-season touchdown pass record, it's important to see how much further ahead a quarterback was from his contemporaries. For as much as we've heard about the ease of breaking such records, it's glaringly obvious that nobody has come anywhere close to Manning's level of production. Drew Brees finished second in the NFL with 39 touchdown passes—a full 16 behind Manning.

This figure eclipses what Brady accomplished in 2007 where his 50 touchdown passes were 14 ahead of Tony Romo, who finished second. Manning's +16 figure tied what Marino was able to accomplish in 1984, when his 48 touchdown passes were 16 ahead of the 32 thrown by Dave Krieg. 

Consider also that Manning out-paced his competiton considerably, while competing against the likes of Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers. Rodgers would have thrown 38.6 touchdown passes at his efficency-rate had he been healthy enough to attempt as many passes as Manning.

If Manning had not taken the entire second half off in the season finale vs. Oakland, the differential would have been even greater.


1. Peyton Manning: 55
2. Drew Brees: 39

Result: Manning +16


1. Tom Brady: 50
2. Tony Romo: 36

Result: Brady +14


1. Dan Marino: 48
2. Dave Krieg: 32

Result: Marino +16

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