All-Time NFL Passing TD Leaders
Unlike some of the other hubs I've done on leaders by franchise, this top ten is strictly based on all-time passing TD leaders, focusing on the QBs who have had the most success in the red zone.
Brett Favre-Does anyone remember that Brett Favre began his career with the Atlanta Falcons? Well, he did, and was traded to Green Bay in 1992, where he has been the starter for 16 seasons with the Packers. Favre has taken the Packers to two Super Bowls, winning one, and won three straight NFL MVP Awards (1995-1997). He also just passed Marino for for career TD passes and has 442 as of 2007. Favre also has 61,657 passing yards, which also leads the NFL. Favre's career high in a season is 39 touchdowns, set in 1996, but he also has never had less than 18 in a full season.
Dan Marino-Dan Marino played his entire career with the Miami Dolphins, from 1983-1999 and recently was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Along the way he became one of the greatest to ever play the game, even while not winning a Super Bowl ring. Marino currently has the record for career touchdown passes, with 420, and it's a record that is about to be broken by Green Bay's Brett Favre. Marino also has the record for career passing yardage with 61,361. Marino was very consistent throughout his career, but 1984 was his best year, with 5084 passing yards and an astounding 48 TDs on his way to winning the NFL MVP Award.
Fran Tarkenton-Fran Tarkenton played for just two teams over the course of his career, the Minnesota Vikings (1961-1966 and 1972-1978) and New York Giants (1967-1971). Tarkenton threw for 47,003 yards and had 342 touchdown passes, and his career high in TDs was 29 with the Giants in 1967, when he also threw for 3088 yards.
John Elway-John Elway played for the Denver Broncos his entire career, from 1983-1998, and became not just one of the best QBs ever for the Broncos, but one of the best the game has ever seen. Elway passed for 51,475 yards (third all-time) and ranks fourth in TD passes all-time with 300. Elway also seemed to get better with age, with his highest TD total of 27 coming in 1997. He also had 22 or more TD passes in five of his last six seasons, and led the Broncos to two Super Bowl titles in his last two years before retiring.
Warren Moon-After coming over from the Canadian Football League, Warren Moon lit up the NFL as well with 49,325 passing yards and 291 touchdowns in a career that spanned from 1984-2000 with four different teams (Houston, Minnesota, Seattle and Kansas City). In 1990 with Houston and in 1995 with Minnesota, Moon had a career high of 33 TD passes, and in that 1990 season he also threw for 4689 yards. Vinny Testaverde-Early in his career, Vinny Testaverde often threw more interceptions than TD passes. But longevity seemed to help him, as he stuck around long enough (he is still an active player in 2007) after coming into the league with Tampa in 1987 to put up significant numbers. Testaverde has played for Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Baltimore, the New York Jets, Dallas and New England, and he's passed for 46,233 yards and 275 TD passes. His best season was the year after the Browns became the Baltimore Ravens, 1996, when he threw for 4177 yards and 33 touchdowns to just 19 interceptions.
Johnny Unitas-Widely recognized as one of the greatest QBs of all-time, Johnny Unitas played mostly for Baltimore (1956-1972) and one season with San Diego (1973). Unitas passed for 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns over the course of his career, and his best overall season was 1959, with a career high of 32 TD passes to go along with just 14 interceptions and 2899 yards through the air. He won two championships with the Colts, including Super Bowl V.
Peyton Manning-Before his playing days are through, it's likely that Peyton Manning will have broken every single QB record in the book. He's probably the most prolific passer ever, having already racked up 41,626 yards and 306 touchdowns in just ten-plus seasons of work. He rarely gets injured and has never missed a game in his pro career from injury, and he's one of the most consistent QBs of all-time. Still, Manning had his best year in 2004, with a record 49 TD passes, 4557 yards and only 10 interceptions. What's also amazing is that Manning has never had less than 26 TD passes in a single season. He also led the Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 2006.
Joe Montana-Joe Montana was one of the most clutch QBs in history, winning the Super Bowl four times while with San Francisco. Montana played most for the 49ers (1979-1992) and also for Kansas City (1993-1994). Over his career he passed for 40,551 yards and 273 touchdowns. In 1987, Montana had a career high of 31 TD passes, but his best season overall was 1990, when he had 3944 yards with 26 TDs and just 16 interceptions. In addition the Super Bowl wins, Montana also won the Super Bowl MVP three times.
Dave Krieg-Dave Krieg began his career with Seattle in 1980 and played for several teams, including Kansas City, Detroit, Arizona, Chicago and Tennessee before retiring in 1998. Over that time, Krieg threw for 38.147 yards with 261 touchdown passes. His best season was 1984 with Seattle, when Krieg amassed 3671 yards with 32 touchdowns, both career highs.