Tom Brady threw the 540th touchdown of his career when he hit Elandon Roberts for a 38-yard score in the third quarter Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. In doing so, Brady moved ahead of Manning on the career list.
Drew Brees overtook Manning for first place when the New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 34-7 in Week 15. Brees had previously claimed the all-time passing mark as well in October 2018. Upon losing his passing record, Manning congratulated Brees and acknowledged his touchdown mark was in danger.
Now, it's a battle between Brady and Brees in the record book, and the winner will likely depend on how long Brees continues to play.
He entered Week 17 with 77,163 passing yards and 544 touchdowns, compared to Brady's 74,350 yards and 539 scores.
Both players can become free agents in the offseason.
Retirement is a possibility for Brees (40) and Brady (42) too.
As he recovered from a thumb injury, Brees spoke about how he gained a new perspective on his playing career.
"I definitely had some butterflies," he told reporters in October. "As game time approached that turned into gratitude. ... I'm a football player. That's what I was talking about when I said that gratitude kind of came over me. I'm blessed to play this game. I love this game. I love my teammates."
While those comments would seemingly give the impression Brees has no intentions of walking away, John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal predicted the Saints quarterback "will retire and walk right into an on-air role with Fox."
Manning, at the very least, doesn't have to worry about falling further in the passing charts. Philip Rivers (58,990 yards, 395 touchdowns) is the next closest active QB in both lists.