Manning leads Broncos to win
Peyton Manning regained his record for touchdown passes with 51 when he threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns, including three in the fourth quarter. He surpassed the 50 TD passes Tom Brady threw in 2007 and led the Broncos (12-3) to a 37-13 win over the Texans (2-13) that extended Houston's franchise-record skid to 13 games.
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Manning did it on a 25-yard pass to Julius Thomas with 4:28 remaining. Just 2 minutes earlier, he tied the mark with a 20-yard pass to Eric Decker.
He entered the game with 47 and his first touchdown came on a 36-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter. The second was a 10-yard throw to Decker earlier in the fourth period.
Manning had previously established the record by throwing 49 touchdown passes in 2004.
The Broncos already had a spot in the playoffs, but their victory, combined with Kansas City's loss to Indianapolis, gave them the division crown. They could secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if New England doesn't win its late game at Baltimore.
Matt Schaub started for the first time since Oct. 13 in place of an injured Case Keenum. He finished with 176 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions for the Texans.
The Broncos couldn't do anything offensively in the third quarter, gaining just 38 yards, and had to punt on each of their four possessions. Their defense helped them out after that, with Mike Adams intercepting Schaub at the Houston 28.
Manning wasted no time making Houston pay, and found Decker two plays later for the touchdown that extended the lead to 23-13.
It was all Broncos after that, with Manning grabbing the record with two more touchdown passes.
Manning made the record-setting throw to Thomas and walked toward the end zone, where his teammates patted him on the head. He then took off his helmet and walking to the sideline and pumped his fist once. His teammates came out to greet him and he gave dozens of high-fives as he grinned and walked to the bench.
Decker somehow got the ball after the touchdown and tucked it in the side of his jersey, where it remained as he walked off the field.
Decker led the Broncos with 10 receptions for 131 yards, and Demaryius Thomas had eight catches for 123 yards. Wes Welker missed his second straight game after sustaining his second concussion in four weeks on Dec. 8.
Schaub found Keshawn Martin on a 15-yard touchdown pass to get Houston within 16-13 early in the third quarter. Andre Johnson dropped a pass in the end zone on the play before. Rookie tight end Ryan Griffin had a 40-yard reception early in that drive.
Johnson finished with four catches for 63 yards. He has 103 catches this season to reach 100 for the fifth time in his career, tying an NFL record for most seasons with at least that many receptions.
Johnson entered the game needing one catch to reach the mark held by Welker. He did it on a 33-yard reception in the first quarter. Johnson also had more than 100 receptions in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012.
Manning's TD pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of the second quarter put Denver up 10-3. Houston used a 35-yard field goal to cut the lead to 10-6 after a 51-yard punt return by Martin.
Matt Prater made field goals of 25 and 44 yards to extend Denver's lead to 16-6 at halftime.
The Broncos lost star linebacker Von Miller to a knee injury in the first quarter, and Houston cornerback Johnathan Joseph went out with a foot injury in the second quarter and didn't return.