Top 10 players with the most passing touchdowns in NFL history
During Week 9 of the 2020 season, Patrick Mahomes became the fastest player to record 100 touchdown passes, when he hit the mark in his 40th NFL game.
Mahomes needed four fewer games than the previous record holder, Dan Marino, and will likely surpass the former Miami Dolphins quarterback in a few more categories by the time he retires.
Entering the fifth year of his preeminent career, the Kansas City Chiefs gunslinger is on pace to shatter the all-time record for touchdown passes, if he continues at his current average of 2.48 touchdowns per game.
While Mahomes is in good position to break the record, he is a long way from cracking the top 10 on the all-time touchdowns list.
Let's examine those players who rank in the top 10 in touchdown passes and explore a few more of their career milestones.
10. Matt Ryan
Touchdown passes: 347
Years active: 2008-present
Ryan has spent his entire 13-year career with the Atlanta Falcons, where he led the franchise to its second Super Bowl appearance, in 2016.
While that Super Bowl will long be remembered as a blemish for Ryan, because of the New England Patriots' 25-point, come-from-behind win, the 36-year-old still has plenty of reason to celebrate his career.
The same season of his Super Bowl run, the five-time Pro Bowler racked up a career-high 4,944 yards and 38 touchdown passes on the way to NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year honors. He was also the only quarterback that season to throw a touchdown in all 16 games.
Matt Ryan’s MVP season is always slept on. That was one of the greatest QB seasons of all time. He had 9.3 yards per attempt and a QB rating of 117. While also throwing for nearly 5,000 yards and 40 TDs. It would easily make my list https://t.co/3sdLY5UArA— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) December 21, 2019
9. Eli Manning
Touchdown passes: 366
Years active: 2004-2019
While he's not considered the best quarterback in his family, Manning assembled quite the career with the New York Giants.
The four-time Pro Bowler won two Super Bowl titles, both times against Tom Brady and the Patriots, and won Super Bowl MVP on each occasion.
Manning also ranks eighth in passing yards (57,023) and passes completed (4,895), and he is tied with 14 other quarterbacks for the longest pass (99 yards) in NFL history.
In 2011, he set a record for the most fourth-quarter touchdown passes in a season (15) and recorded the most passing yards in a single postseason (1,219) that same year.
8. Ben Roethlisberger
Touchdown passes: 396
Years active: 2004-present
At 39, "Big Ben" is running out of time to work his way up this list, but age doesn't seem to be slowing him down.
In 2018, he led the league in passing yards, with a career-high 5,129, and set a Steelers franchise record with 34 touchdown passes.
The two-time Super Bowl champion won his first title at age 23 to become the youngest starting QB to win a Super Bowl, and he picked up Offensive Rookie of the Year that same season.
The seven-time Pro Bowler is the only player to record consecutive games of six or more touchdown passes and holds the NFL record for most 500-yard passing games (four).
7. Aaron Rodgers
Touchdown passes: 412
Years active: 2005-present
Like Roethlisberger, longtime Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers is nearing the end of his career, but his performance has hardly suffered.
In 2020, at age 37, he won his third MVP Award and reached a second straight NFC Championship Game, where he fell to Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Rodgers has one Super Bowl title, a Super Bowl MVP, and nine Pro Bowls. He has also led the league in passer rating three times (2011, 2012, and 2020) and topped the NFL in touchdown passes twice (2016 and 2020).
#Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is the 2020 AP Most Valuable Player. He threw for a franchise record 48 touchdowns & set another franchise record in completion percentage (70.7%) -- both marks surpassed his 2011 MVP season stat categories (45 TDs, 68.3%). Well deserved, 12! #GoPackGo. pic.twitter.com/zYF9siebmp— 🧀 Packers #1 Fan™ 🧀 (@ParkerMoes) February 7, 2021
His 122.5 passer rating in 2011 is a single-season NFL record, while his 0.3 interception percentage in 2018 is the lowest in league history.
He is also the fastest NFL quarterback to 400 touchdown passes (193 games) and is the first player to record a 4-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
6. Dan Marino
Touchdown passes: 420
Years active: 1983-1999
At the time of his retirement, in 1999, Marino owned the record for most touchdown passes.
That mark has since been broken, but a number of his other records are still intact. The 89 games it took for Marino to reach 200 touchdown passes is still an all-time low, and no player has led the league in completions in more seasons (six) than the Dolphins legend.
Considered by many as the greatest quarterback to never win a title, Marino made 10 playoff appearances with Miami and reached Super Bowl XIX, which the San Francisco 49ers won in a blowout.
The nine-time Pro Bowler and NFL MVP has the most victories (155) of a quarterback who has not won a Super Bowl and held more than 40 NFL single-season and career passing records at the time of his retirement.
5. Philip Rivers
Touchdown passes: 421
Years active: 2004-2020
Rivers, a recent retiree, is another decorated quarterback who never won a championship. Rivers never even reached the title game during his 17-year career.
In 16 seasons with the Chargers, and one final season in Indianapolis, the eight-time Pro Bowler made seven postseason appearances, with his best playoff run culminating in an AFC Championship Game loss to the Patriots in 2008.
His postseason record was 5-7, but he fared a bit better in the regular season, with a 134-106 mark and four division titles with the Chargers.
Philip Rivers is third quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 3,500 yards in 10 consecutive seasons, joining Peyton Manning (13, 1998-2010) and Drew Brees (13, 2005-17).— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 11, 2017
He ranks fifth in passing yards (63,440) and touchdown passes (421), which are the most of any quarterback without a Super Bowl appearance. He also ranks second in consecutive starts by a quarterback (252, including the postseason).
4. Brett Favre
Touchdown passes: 508
Years active: 1991-2010
The quarterback with the most consecutive starts (321), Favre transformed the fortunes of the Green Bay Packers when he became the leader of their offense in 1992.
In 16 seasons with Green Bay, Favre took the team on 11 playoff runs, back-to-back Super Bowls, and won a championship in 1997.
He played one season with the New York Jets in 2008, before he jumped back to the NFC North to compete with the Minnesota Vikings and guided the team to the NFC Championship Game in 2009.
The 11-time Pro Bowler is the only player to collect three consecutive MVPs (1995-1997) and topped the NFL in touchdown passes four times (1995, 1996m 1997, and 2003) and passing yards twice (1995 and 1998).
When the Hall of Famer officially retired at the end of the 2009 season, he ranked first in passing yards, touchdown passes, and quarterback victories. He was also the first quarterback to record 70,000 passing yards, 10,000 passes, 6,000 completions, and to defeat all 32 NFL teams.
3. Peyton Manning
Touchdown passes: 539
Years active: 1998-2015
One of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and older brother to Eli, Peyton Manning had an incredible knack for scoring throughout his career.
Following a 13-year stint with the Indianapolis Colts that resulted in one Super Bowl title, Manning signed with the Denver Broncos in 2012 and launched a career renaissance no one saw coming.
In 2013, he set the single-season record for passing yards (5,477) and touchdown passes (55), while he received a record fifth MVP trophy and his second Comeback Player of the Year award.
He retired after the 2015 season, after a win in Super Bowl 50, and became the first starting quarterback to win titles with more than one franchise.
Remember when Peyton Manning opened the 2013 season with SEVEN touchdown passes? (via @nflthrowback) pic.twitter.com/CoWaHNnAhI— NFL (@NFL) June 11, 2021
The 14-time Pro Bowler led the league in touchdown passes four times. He holds the record for most 4,000-yard passing seasons (14), most fourth-quarterback comebacks (43), and ranks third all time in passing yards (71,940).
2. Drew Brees
Touchdown passes: 571
Years active: 2001-2020
Drew Brees never won an MVP, but he made the New Orleans Saints one of the most feared teams in the league during his 14-year tenure.
The 13-time Pro Bowler and two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year brought New Orleans the city's only Super Bowl title in 2010 and earned the team seven division titles, plus three NFC Championship Game appearances.
Brees retired in 2020 as the leader in passing yards (80,358), pass completions (7,142) and most consecutive games with a touchdown pass (42). He was also a seven-time NFL passing yards leader, six-time completion percentage leader, and four-time passing touchdowns leader.
He ranked first in touchdown passes at one point in 2020 but was eventually eclipsed by No. 1 on our list.
1. Tom Brady
Touchdown passes: 581
Years active: 2000-2020
At the age of 43, Tom Brady is the undisputed greatest quarterback of all time. He just won his seventh Super Bowl title and first with the Buccaneers in 2020, and is a contender to win an eighth ring in 2021.
The five-time Super Bowl MVP and three-time NFL MVP doesn't just win Super Bowls. He also crushes NFL records.
A four-time NFL passing touchdowns leader, Brady has won more regular-season and postseason games than any other quarterback and has played the most games of any player at his position.
In addition to the most touchdown passes in both the regular season and playoffs, he ranks first in pass attempts (10,598) and second in passing yards (79,204), completed passes (6,778), and fourth-quarter comebacks (39).
His 173 games with two or more touchdown passes is another NFL record, while he is tied for the most seasons (five) with 35 or more touchdown passes.
His 541 passing touchdowns with the Patriots is the most by a quarterback with one team, and he is tied for the most Pro Bowl selections (14).
Brady is also the only NFL quarterback to accumulate at least 40 touchdown passes in a season in both the AFC (50 in 2007) and NFC (40 in 2020), and, unsurprisingly, has the most Super Bowl touchdown passes (21).