NFL Touchdown Pass Record (Manning or Brady?)

Ryan MichaelSenior Writer IIINovember 5, 2008

As many people saw last year, Patriots QB Tom Brady broke Peyton Manning's single season TD pass record by throwing 50 TD passes in 2007. But did he really break the record? Well, I guess it would depend on your perspective. Here is the statistical breakdown...

Peyton Manning (2004):

336 completions, 497 attempts, 49 TD passes

Tom Brady (2007):

398 completions, 578 attempts, 50 TD passes

This shows that Tom Brady threw a total of 81 more passes in 2007 then Peyton Manning threw in 2004. So lets do the math. If you divide 497 attempts by Manning's 49 TD's, he averaged 1 TD pass per every 10.14 passes. Statistically speaking if you go by that average, if Manning threw an extra 81 passes he would average another 8 TD passes bringing his total up from 49 to 57.

Now we have to also take into account that Manning's backup Jim Sorgi threw 2 more TD passes in only 29 passing attempts. That means that the Indianapolis Colts threw 51 TD passes as a team in 2004 and the New England Patriots threw only 50 as a team in 2007. This would mean that the team record belongs to the Colts, not the Patriots. It also would be reasonable to assume that had Manning threw another 81 passes in 2004, he would have easily broken the record of 50 that currently stands.

Now we have to take into account that Randy Moss caught 23 of the 50 TD passes Tom Brady threw in 2007. In 2004, the Colts leader in TD catches was Marvin Harrison with 15. This means that Tom Brady was much more dependent on the production of Moss then Manning was on the production of any one player. As a matter of fact, Manning became the only player in NFL history to throw 10 TD's or more to 3 different receivers (Harrison 15, Wayne 12, and Stokley 10). In 2007, Randy Moss was the only player with over 10 TD's with Wes Welker coming in 2nd place with only 8. This displays Manning's ability to be able to spread the ball around the field to multiple players and it also displays Brady's reliance on Randy Moss to produce.

Another factor to consider is that the Patriots defense of 2007 was far better then the Colts defense of 2004. The Patriots defense ranked 4th in the NFL in 2007 as opposed to the Colts who only ranked 19th in 2004. This means that Peyton Manning and the Colts offense were in more pressure situations, playing from behind, and having to compensate for a poor defense. The Patriots by contrast were usually ahead on the score boards with more offensive playing time and less pressure. They did not have to compensate for a poor defense. Their defense actually played so well that it gave the Patriots the ball and the advantage more often then not.

A record that Tom Brady failed to break was the single season QB rating record. Brady's QB rating in 2007 was 117.2. In 2004 Manning's QB rating was 121.1. The reason why Manning's his higher is because he was more productive. He practically matched every number Brady put up in 2007 but did so throwing far less passes.

So with all the factors in mind, who is the real record owner? Is it Tom Brady who threw only 1 more TD in 81 more pass attempts? Was it Tom Brady who benefited from a receiver who caught nearly 50% of his TD throws? Was it Tom Brady who played on a team with a top-tier defense that gave him the ball and the advantage on the score-board?

No, Tom Brady might hold the record by default. Even with the spygate fiasco from Week 1 of the 2007 season aside, Peyton Manning threw 49 TD passes in 81 fewer throws. The Colts as a team threw 51 TD passes because Manning was classy enough to remove himself from the huddle when the game had been won where as Brady ran the score up in games that the Pats had already won. So how is it exactly that Tom Brady is the real record holder? Bottom line...he's not. It's just that Pats fans and media-hyped fools like to have something fun to talk about. But the real record holders are in Indianapolis, no matter how you chose to look at it.

-Ryan Michael