ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Peyton Manning's next touchdown throw will be his 500th, and he's spreading the credit around just like he does the football.
The five-time MVP doesn't like to talk about individual accomplishments.
As he approaches another milestone in a career filled with so many big moments, however, Manning took time Wednesday to reflect on all the help he's received on his 499 TD passes.
He acknowledged that yes, he looks at his TD throws and interceptions every year because if the former is high and the latter low, "that means you're getting your team in the end zone and that means you're protecting the ball. I think that particular statistic usually leads to winning football games."
"As far as the other thing, obviously, you're just trying to win this football game," Manning said. "But when asked about it, I have reflected on how many great teammates and coaches that I've been with along the way that have been a part of that. You don't throw that many touchdowns without a lot of help."
It's not just the 44 players who have caught one of Manning's TD throws, but the rest of his teammates and coaches.
"As my old center Jeff Saturday said, the only reason I've thrown that many is because I had great protection for so many years. Typical lineman speaking, especially one in the media now," Manning said. "But to tell you the truth, he's right. There are so many people that have helped me along the way."
He'll face men who made big early impressions on him Sunday when the Denver Broncos (2-1) host Arizona (3-0).
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was Manning's first quarterback coach when Manning arrived in the NFL in 1998. And Arizona's assistant head coach Tom Moore was his offensive coordinator during his 13 seasons in Indianapolis.
The Cardinals would love to delay Manning's milestone another week, but they know as well as anyone that it's probably just wishful thinking.
"That's tough because Peyton always finds a way to get the ball in the end zone," Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson said.
The last time Manning didn't throw a TD pass was Nov. 14, 2010, against Cincinnati.
So, chances are No. 500 will come sometime Sunday.
"He'll probably brush it off like it's just another touchdown," Denver nose tackle Terrance Knighton said. "But I know it means a lot to him."
And chances are Manning's touchstone touchdown won't come down in the arms of a receiver, either.
Tight ends Julius Thomas (five) and Jacob Tamme (two) have accounted for all but one of Manning's eight TD tosses this season.
Newcomer Emmanuel Sanders went into the Broncos' bye last week as the league leader in catches (25) and yards (334), yet he still waiting to spike a TD toss from him — unlike Denver defensive tackle Mitch Unrein.
"It's still kind of a shock to me that I have a touchdown from Peyton," Unrein said.
Sanders can't wait to join the list.
With 14 catches so far, Thomas jokingly asked Sanders on Wednesday if he could spare a reception.
"All right," Sanders retorted. "I'll trade you for a touchdown."
Thomas said Sanders can have No. 500 if he wants it.
"I've already got a couple milestones," said Thomas, who caught Manning's 51st TD throw that broke Tom Brady's single-season record last year. It was one of his dozen TD receptions that surpassed Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe's team record for tight ends.
"I hope they throw it to me," said Knighton, noting that a jelly-belly lineman a few lockers down caught one.
Unrein lined up at fullback on Dec. 2, 2012, slipped into the left flat unencumbered on first-and-goal from the 1 and hauled in Manning's floater to help the Broncos beat Tampa Bay 31-23.
Manning has thrown 100 TD passes in the regular season since his arrival in Denver.
His first in a Broncos uniform was the 400th of his career and it came on a 71-yard screen pass to Demaryius Thomas.
Manning figures to surpass Favre's record of 508 TD throws later this month.
Behind them are Dan Marino (420), Drew Brees (370), Brady (363), Fran Tarkenton (342) and John Elway (300).
Told he has nearly 200 more TD passes than his boss, Manning said: "He probably has a few more rushing touchdowns that I do."
Elway has 33 of those, Manning, 18.
Notes: LB Lerentee McCray (knee) practiced for the first time since getting hurt against Kansas City on Sept. 14. That left S David Bruton (ankle) as the only player who didn't practice. RG Louis Vasquez (ribcage) was limited. ... Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw and point guard Ty Lawson attended Wednesday's practice.
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