The quarterback made history by rewriting the NFL record books, was named Sports Illustrated’s 2013 Sportsman of the Year, and helped guide his team to a third-straight AFC West title and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
Now, Manning has another distinction to add to his December – AFC Offensive Player of the Month.
The quarterback earned the award on Thursday for an NFL-record eighth time in his career. It’s the fourth time that Manning has been honored with the award as a Bronco, and the second time in 2013 – he also earned AFC Offensive Player of the Month honors for September earlier this season.
Manning’s December included a pair of landmarks in both the quarterback’s storied 16-year career and in NFL history – as Manning set NFL single-season records for touchdowns and passing yards in the final two games of the regular season.
The quarterback broke Tom Brady’s NFL record of 50 touchdown passes in a single game in a 37-13 win over the Texans in Week 16, throwing his 51st touchdown pass to tight end
“It was great, to see a guy that’s worked as hard as he has throughout his career and I know for a fact – the two seasons we’ve had him, almost two complete seasons – pretty remarkable and pretty exciting to be around,” Head Coach John Fox said of Manning after the quarterback set the NFL single-season touchdowns record against the Texans. “To see a guy that goes about his business like he does get rewarded with success – very humble.”
One week later, Manning broke Drew Brees’ single-season passing yardage record, throwing for 266 yards in the first half of the Broncos’ 34-14 win over the Raiders in their regular-season finale to bring his 2013 passing yardage total to an all-time best 5,477 yards.
“It is always rewarding when you put hard work in and you can reap those benefits with winning games, a two-minute touchdown drive, a fourth-down conversion, whatever that may be,” Manning said after the Broncos’ Week 17 win. “It makes you feel like it was worth putting that work and sacrifice in. I definitely feel like a lot of players feel that way through all that has occurred this season.”
For the month of December, Manning completed 145-of-214 passes for 1,755 yards and 19 touchdowns against just three interceptions. He threw for four-or-more touchdowns in all but one game, leading the Broncos to a 4-1 record in that span.
After the Raiders game, Manning applauded the dedication and resilience of his teammates in battling through adversity throughout the 2013 regular season.
“We have had a number of distractions. Injuries, on-field situations, off-field situations,” Manning said after the Broncos’ win over the Raiders in the regular-season finale. “But I think the one constant has been the players’ focus – they have remained focused on the task at-hand, on trying to improve everybody’s individual play which hopefully would result in better team play.”
“We have put the time in certainly with the football requirements from the Broncos and we have done things outside of the requirements – guys have done things on our own: weightlifting, throwing sessions, conditioning work, you name it,” he added. “Guys have paid the price and sacrificed in order to get in this position. It is fun to play with guys like that who have that kind of work ethic and passion.”
The month included a few other personal landmarks for Manning.
Manning’s 25-for-28 passing performance against the Raiders was good for a completion percentage of 89.3 – the highest of the quarterback’s career and the second-highest by a player with at least 28 attempts in a game.
Manning’s NFL-record 55 touchdown passes also moved the quarterback’s career total to 491, leaving him just 17 away from Brett Favre’s NFL record of 508.