DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 23:   Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos passes under pressure from  Jason Hunter #93 of the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Looking back on Peyton Manning’s 18 best NFL games

Peyton Manning is officially retiring, so with No. 18 walking away after 18 seasons in the NFL, here’s a look at his 18 best games.

Honorable Mentions

Oct. 6, 2003: Colts 38, Buccaneers 35

Indy trailed 28-7 before Manning went 13 of 17 for 187 yards in the fourth quarter, leading the Colts to four touchdowns to force overtime. The 27-year-old finished 34 of 47 for 386 yards, two touchdowns and a pick.

Nov. 7, 2005: Colts 40, Patriots 21

On the road against the two-time defending Super Bowl champions, Manning completed 28 of 37 passes (including nine of his last 11) to put away New England. His three touchdown passes overshadowed a lone second-quarter interception as the 29-year-old posted a 117.1 rating in the prime-time victory.

Oct. 11, 2009: Colts 31, Titans 9

On the road against a solid division rival (Tennessee was 5-2 in the rest of its home games that season), Manning completed a silly 36 of 44 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns in a blowout victory. It was the only time in his career he completed more than 80 percent of 40-plus passes.

Sept. 29, 2013: Broncos 52, Eagles 20

This was a one-score game at halftime before Manning lit Philadelphia up with a 15-for-16, 158-yard, three-touchdown performance in the second half. He finished with just six incompletions on 34 attempts, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 146.0.

 

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos

The Top 18

18. Oct. 22, 2000: Colts 30, Patriots 23

Manning had just four incomplete passes on 20 attempts, posting a perfect passer rating (158.3) in a comeback victory. Indianapolis trailed by two scores in the third quarter, but the 24-year-old was 12 of 14 for 186 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.

17. Oct. 15, 2012: Broncos 35, Chargers 24

Manning completed 80 percent of his 30 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns, but what’s most impressive is the manner in which he got to those numbers. Denver trailed San Diego 24-0 at halftime, but No. 18 went 13 of 14 for 167 yards and three touchdowns in the second half as the Broncos came storming back to beat a division rival on the road.

16. Dec. 18, 2008: Colts 31, Jaguars 24

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 18:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts calls a signal during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on December 18, 2008 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, FL – DECEMBER 18: Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts calls a signal during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on December 18, 2008 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Manning led the Colts back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, finishing 29 of 34 for 364 yards and three touchdowns in a turnover-free performance. His completion percentage of 85.3 was the second-highest of his career for games in which he attempted at least 30 passes (of which there were 196).

15. Sept. 25, 2000: Colts 43, Jaguars 14

In what was his first truly jaw-dropping performance, a 24-year-old Manning completed eight passes beyond 20 yards, finishing with 440 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 143.3 passer rating in a blowout victory. He also had four 30-yard completions to four different receivers.

14. Oct. 5, 2014: Broncos 41, Cardinals 20

This was a one-score game entering the fourth quarter, but a 38-year-old Manning completed 12 of his final 13 passes for 171 yards in the final 20 minutes, leading Denver to 17 unanswered points to put the game away. Against one of the league’s best defenses, Manning finished with a career-high 479 passing yards, four touchdowns and two picks.

13. Jan. 11, 2004: Colts 38, Chiefs 31

In the first of Manning’s two career road playoff victories, the 27-year-old quieted the famously-loud Arrowhead Stadium crowd by leading the Indianapolis offense to scores on six of its first seven drives. He finished 22 of 33 for 304 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 138.7. “He doesn’t throw an inaccurate ball,” Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said afterward, per ESPN. “Every pass is where it should be.”

12. Oct. 6, 2013: Broncos 51, Cowboys 48

In order to help bring Denver back from a late-fourth-quarter deficit, Manning completed each of his final seven passes for 98 yards to cap a wild 51-48 road victory over Dallas. He finished 33 of 42 (78.6 percent) for 414 yards, four touchdowns and a 129.6 passer rating.

11. Sept. 26, 2004: Colts 45, Packers 31

Manning threw five first-half touchdown passes before coasting to a blowout victory over the Brett Favre-led Packers. He finished 28 of 40 for 393 yards (320 of which came before halftime) and posted a 140.9 passer rating in a turnover-free performance against a playoff-quality opponent.

10. Jan. 24, 2010: Colts 30, Jets 17

Against the league’s top-rated scoring defense, Manning completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns (123.6 passer rating) in an AFC championship game victory that required a second-half comeback.

9. Jan. 19, 2014: Broncos 26, Patriots 16

In order to punch a ticket to his third Super Bowl, Manning earned the final win of his last MVP season by leading Denver over his biggest rival in the AFC championship game. He finished with 400 passing yards and two touchdowns in a turnover-free performance.

8. Oct. 29, 2006: Colts 34, Broncos 31

With the Colts trailing a strong Denver team in the fourth quarter, Manning completed 10 of 11 passes for 122 yards on two scoring drives in the final seven minutes. He finished 32 of 39 for 345 yards and three touchdowns in a clutch road victory over a team that was unbeaten at home.

7. Nov. 10, 2002: Colts 35, Eagles 13

At the age of 26, Manning threw three touchdown passes of 25 or more yards (including two beyond 40 yards to Marvin Harrison) in a one-sided road upset over one of the best teams in the NFL. He finished with 13.9 yards per attempt (still the third-highest mark of his career) and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. It was the only home loss all season for an Eagles team that finished 12-4 and went to the NFC championship.

6. Nov. 25, 2004: Colts 41, Lions 9

Manning and the Colts embarrassed the Lions in Detroit on Thanksgiving, with the 28-year-old quarterback completing all but five of his 28 pass attempts, and with six of those 23 completions going for touchdowns. He had 236 yards, no interceptions and a 141.4 rating.

5. Sept. 28, 2003: Colts 55, Saints 21

Manning completed 20 of 25 pass attempts, with six of those completions going for touchdowns on a 314-yard night at the Superdome. He posted a perfect passer rating (158.3) four times in his career, but this was the only time he did so with 25 or more attempts. On Sunday Night Football in his hometown and against his dad’s former team, this was sheer dominance.

4. Sept. 5, 2013: Broncos 49, Ravens 27

Against the reigning Super Bowl champions in the prime-time season opener, Manning threw a career-high seven touchdown passes on a ridiculous 462-yard night. He completed nine passes beyond 20 yards that evening, with five of those going for touchdowns.

3. Sept. 23, 2013: Broncos 37, Raiders 21

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 23:   Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos passes under pressure from  Jason Hunter #93 of the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 23: Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos passes under pressure from Jason Hunter #93 of the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Manning continued an unstoppable start to his final MVP season with a near-perfect home performance against rival Oakland on Monday Night Football, completing all but five of his 37 pass attempts for 374 yards and three touchdowns in an easy Denver victory. Check out the highlights or watch the game online if you can, because  the numbers don’t do it justice. This game exemplified the man’s ability to manipulate and embarrass defenses.

2. Jan. 4, 2004: Colts 41, Broncos 10

Manning posted a perfect passer rating (158.3) in his first career playoff victory. In that wild-card matchup with Denver, the 27-year-old completed all but four of his 26 pass attempts for 377 yards and five touchdowns. This stills stands as the only occasion in NFL playoff history in which a quarterback posted a perfect passer rating on at least 20 pass attempts. “Every ball he threw was perfect,” recalled wide receiver Brandon Stokley, per ESPN.

1. Jan. 9, 2005: Colts 49, Broncos 24

Contrary to how things ended, Manning did a lot of the heavy lifting on Indy’s first few playoff runs. One year after putting together a dominant performance against Denver in his first-ever playoff win, Manning did the same thing in the Colts’ 2004 wild-card game. That afternoon at the RCA Dome, a 28-year-old Manning completed 27 of 33 passes for 458 yards and four touchdowns, while also running for a fifth, in another blowout victory.

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at CBSSports.com, Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.

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