HOUSTON - Peyton Manning passed for 400 yards and set an NFL single-season mark for touchdown passes, leading the Denver Broncos to a 37-13 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday at Reliant Stadium.
With his 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Julius Thomas at the 4:28 mark of the fourth quarter, Manning recorded his 51st scoring pass this season and eclipsed the mark set by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in 2007. Manning will enter the season finale 266 yards shy of Drew Brees' single-season record of 5,476 passing yards set in 2011 with New Orleans.
Combined with the Kansas City Chiefs' 23-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the Broncos' victory clinched the AFC West crown. Denver (12-3) clung to a 16-13 lead before pulling away in the fourth quarter to send the Texans (2-13) to their 13th consecutive loss in their home finale.
With his 20-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Eric Decker with 6:57 remaining in the fourth quarter, Manning matched the single-season record of 50. Two minutes later he etched his name in the record book yet again. Manning set the single-season mark for touchdown passes with 49 in 2004 before Brady bypassed him three seasons later.
The Broncos sputtered in the first half, settling for three Matt Prater field goals including a pair after they penetrated the red zone. The Texans shut down Manning in the third quarter, limiting the Broncos to 38 yards on 14 plays while cutting the deficit to three.
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, making his first start Oct. 13 against the St. Louis Rams, connected on a 15-yard touchdown to Keshawn Martin with 10:33 left in the third to pull Houston to within 16-13. But early in the fourth quarter, Schaub tossed an ill-advised pass that was picked off by Broncos cornerback Mike Adams. Denver took over at the Houston 28-yard line and Manning was quick to convert.
Two plays after the turnover, Manning threw a 10-yard scoring pass to Decker that extended the lead to 23-13 with 13:26 remaining.
NOTES: With his 33-yard reception in the first quarter, Texans WR Andre Johnson matched Broncos WR Wes Welker for the most 100-catch seasons in NFL history with five. ... Broncos QB Peyton Manning become the fifth quarterback in NFL history to pass for 5,000 yards in a single season, eclipsing the barrier with his 9-yard completion to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter. Drew Brees (three times), Tom Brady, Dan Marino and Matt Stafford previously amassed 5,000 passing yards in a season. ... Broncos LB Von Miller was lost to a right knee injury early in the first quarter and did not return.