Dungy says Manning can break Favre's record

Tony Dungy appreciates Brett Favre's recent run to break Dan Marino's all-time touchdown record. But he believes that, barring injury, he's coaching the player that will one day surpass Favre — Peyton Manning.

The numbers say it all — 422 and 283.

The first number is Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre's total passing touchdowns, now the all-time league mark. The second number is Colts quarterback Peyton Manning's career touchdown passes entering Sunday's game against Tampa Bay.

While there is considerable attention being paid to Favre, Indianapolis head coach Tony Dungy believes there isn't much standing in the way of Manning, one day, surpassing Favre.

"I think he will break it if he stays healthy," Dungy said.

Health is a big factor in breaking the all-time touchdown mark. Favre hasn't missed a start since taking over as Green Bay's starter — a span of 241 games. Dan Marino, who held the record before Favre, only suffered one major injury in his 17-year career.

So it's no real surprise that Manning has the second-longest starting streak among quarterbacks in NFL history with 148 career starts. Marino is fifth.

"Peyton is going to be on pace to break it," Dungy said. "I don't see him slowing down in his productivity if he doesn't get hurt. We have a lot of good players around him. He knows the system. The system is not going to change."

Talent and supporting cast are other factors. Marino had Mark Duper and Mark Clayton. Favre had Antonio Freeman and has Donald Driver.

Manning, of course, has Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.

Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden called Manning the "standard" for quarterbacks in the NFL.

The last time Manning faced the Buccaneers, in 2003, he threw for 386 yards and two touchdowns to rally the Colts to a 38-35 victory on Monday Night Football, a game some credit with beginning the Bucs' downhill slide that season.

"I don't remember that being a very fun night," Gruden said on Monday. "He's the best. He does more at the line of scrimmage than any quarterback I've ever seen. He's going to run the show. He is one of the most complete players at his position and it will be a great challenge."

Manning has been his usual self so far this season, completing 67.2 percent of his passes and throwing eight touchdowns against one interception. The Colts are off to a 4-0 start for the fifth time in five years. He said he's more focused on that than Favre's record, though he admitted Wednesday that he called Favre on Monday to congratulate him on passing Marino.

"We lost a lot of players this season and we're still trying to form this 2007 team's identity," Manning said.

Manning called challenging Favre "far-fetched." But is it? Consider that Manning has averaged 30.5 touchdowns during his nine NFL seasons. At that rate, it would take Manning less than five years to catch Favre's current total. Manning would be 36, a year younger than Favre.

But, of course, Favre still has time to build on his total. His rejuvenation this season may signal that Favre could play a few more years under second-year coach Mike McCarthy. Even Dungy acknowledges that.

"(He could) play for eight more years and just put the number out of sight," Dungy said. "Which could happen."

But even if it does, Manning may have the tools and the talent to make a run at Favre anyway.

Colts primer

Three things to watch on Sunday

Peyton Manning

With no Marvin Harrison and no Joseph Addai (potentially), the All-Pro will have to put more on his shoulders against the Buccaneers.

Dwight Freeney

Will the All-Pro defensive end exploit the inexperience of new starting left tackle Donald Penn and wreak havoc on the Bucs' pass protection?

Bob Sanders

If the run-stuffing safety can't play, expect the Colts run defense to falter a bit. The Colts allow 40 fewer rushing yards per game with Sanders than without him.


Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and has won national awards for his Buccaneers coverage from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is also a contributor to the Scot Brantley Show from 4-7 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1490-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.


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