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Broncos rip Texans; Manning sets new TD pass mark
Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Peyton Manning broke Tom Brady's NFL record for touchdown passes in a season on Sunday, but not without a little help from his defense.
Manning threw four touchdown passes to reach 51 for the season and the Broncos beat the Houston Texans 37-13 to clinch the AFC West title.
Three of Manning's touchdown passes came in the fourth quarter -- two to Eric Decker and the record-breaker to tight end Julius Thomas in the front right corner of the end zone with 4:28 remaining.
Manning shook hands with teammates on the field, pulled his helmet off and high-fived some of them on the sideline before taking a seat on the bench by himself, done for the day.
Decker tucked the ball inside his jersey and smuggled the keepsake to the sideline.
Manning's first touchdown pass to Decker came after Broncos safety Mike Adams dragged his feet inbounds for an interception that gave Manning a short field early in the fourth quarter when he needed it the most.
Manning had started the second half with six straight incompletions and the Broncos offense was sagging. But he hit Decker from 10 yards out two plays after Adams' pick and found him again from 20 yards on Denver's next drive.
The record-breaker went to Thomas, who easily got behind linebacker Darryl Sharpton and pulled in the perfectly placed pass.
The Broncos (12-3) clinched the division with a little help from the Kansas City Chiefs, who lost to Indianapolis at home. A New England loss or tie against Baltimore will give the Broncos homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
The Texans (2-13) have lost 13 in a row.
12/22 16:31:08 ET