Peyton Manning set a huge NFL record on Sunday, and barely. A touchdown pass late in the second quarter to Demaryius Thomas broke Drew Brees' single-season record for passing yards by 1 yard.
Or did it?
Deadspin, citing a thread on Reddit, looked closer at a 7-yard pass Manning had to Eric Decker in the first quarter. Manning stepped back from center, immediately turned left and threw to Decker. And if it's not a backwards lateral, it's very, very close.
Manning's right arm, at least from the main television angle, seemed to release the ball at Denver's 49-yard line. It looks like the ball was at the 48 when Decker caught it.
If that's true (and television angles can create false illusions unless the camera is lined up directly on the yard line in question), and the pass went backward, it should have been ruled a lateral and a 7-yard run by Decker. More importantly, it would have knocked 7 yards off of Manning's yardage total of 5,477 for the season, which is just ahead of Brees' old record of 5,476.
The Broncos led 31-0 at halftime and Manning didn't play in the second half. Presumably, the Broncos knew that Manning had been credited for the 266 yards he needed to beat Brees, and the fact that he already beat Brees' record probably played into the decision to bench him at halftime. Had he needed 7 more yards, the Broncos might have kept him in the game for another drive and let him break the record.
The NFL, through official statistician Elias Sports Bureau, makes stat corrections all the time in the days after the games from reviewing film, but this is a very unusual case. If Elias does think that this is a lateral, would they really take the record away from Manning? Or just let it quietly slide into history?
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