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Top 10 NFL Passing Touchdown Leaders

Updated on July 2, 2011
Dave Krieg - Seattle Seahawks
Dave Krieg - Seattle Seahawks

#10) Dave Krieg - 261

Dave Krieg attended Milton College in Milton, Wisconsin before joining the NFL in 1980. During his career he played in 213 games while accumulating 38,147 passing yards, 261 touchdown passes, 199 interceptions, completing 3,105 of 5,311 passes, and a 81.5 career QB rating. Krieg also managed to rush for 417 carries, 1,261 yards, and 13 touchdowns. He started his professional career with the Seattle Seahawks where he played from 1980 thru 1991. After leaving the Seahawks as a free agent he played for the Kansas City Chiefs (1992-93), the Detroit Lions (1994), the Arizona Cardinals (1995), the Chicago Bears (1996), and finishing his career as Steve McNair's backup with the Tennessee Oilers (1997-98).

Joe Montana - San Francisco 49ers
Joe Montana - San Francisco 49ers

#9) Joe Montana - 273

'Cool Joe' Montana attended college at Notre Dame from 1975 to 1978. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 3rd round as the 82nd overall pick. Most known for his role as the 49ers QB, he played there from 1979 to 1992 with Jerry Rice as his favorite target. He finished his career with the Kansas City Chiefs (1993-1994) where he replaced the recently departed Dave Krieg. During his career in the NFL, Montana played in 192 games throwing for 40,551 yards, 273 touchdowns, and 139 interceptions. He completed 3,409 passes in 5,391 attempts and retired with a 92.3 career QB rating. Also on his resume: winning all four of his Super Bowl appearences and election to the Pro Football hall of fame, class of 2000.

Vinny Testaverde - Tampa Bay Bucaneers
Vinny Testaverde - Tampa Bay Bucaneers

#8) Vinny Testaverde - 275

Vinny Testaverde is probably remembered more for throwing interceptions than throwing touchdowns during his 21 season career.  He attended the University of Miami from 1983-86; his senior year he won the Heisman Trophy as well as the Davey O'Brien Award, the Walter Camp Award, and the Maxwell Award.  Vinny was drafted by the Tampa Bay Bucaneers in the 1987 draft in the first round as the first overall draft pick.  He played 6 seasons with the Bucs before spending a career of bouncing from team to team.  In 1993, he signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Cleveland Browns and played with them until 95 when the Browns moved to Baltimore and become the Ravens, and stayed on as the Ravens QB until 1997.  He then played with the New York Jets (1998-2003), the Dallas Cowboys (2004), again with the Jets (2005), the New England Patriots (2006), and finishing his professional career with the Carolina Panthers (2007).  During his career he threw for 275 touchdowns, 267 interceptions, 46,233 passing yards and a 75.0 career QB rating.  Vinny Testaverde, at age 43, is the oldest to win a NFL game. He also holds the record for throwing a TD in 21 consecutive seasons as well as an interception in 19 consecutive seasons.

Johnny Unitas - Baltimore Colts
Johnny Unitas - Baltimore Colts

#7) Johnny Unitas - 290

Johnny Unitas aka the Golden Arm was involved with professional football from 1955-1973 and is widely regarded as one of the greatest NFL quaterbacks of all time.  Unitas played for a poorly funded Lousiville Cardinals football team from 1951 to 1954.  After college, he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the ninth round as the 102nd overall pick, but was cut before the season started.  In 1956, the Baltimore Colts signed him and the Johnny U legend began.  He led the Colts to two Super Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl V win. He was traded to the San Diego Chargers in 1973 and retired after the '73 season.  He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.  During his career, Johnny played in 211 games completing 2,830 of 5,186 passes while throwing for 40,239 yards, 290 touchdowns, 253 interceptions, and a 78.2 career QB rating.  Unitas made 10 Pro Bowl appearances and was a 5 time first-team All-Pro.  He was the first quarterback to pass for 40,000 yards despite playing shorter seasons than the NFL currently does.

Warren Moon - Houston Oilers
Warren Moon - Houston Oilers

#6) Warren Moon - 291

Coming in at number six on the list is Warren Moon, who is an interesting case.  Had Moon played in the NFL his entire career, he quite possibly would be number one on this list.  His collegiate career consisted of playing for West Los Angeles College (1974-75) and the University of Washington (1976-77).  Moon went undrafted in the 1978 draft due, in large part, to refusing to change positions from QB to an end position (the NFL teams did not want a black quarterback).  His next best option was to play in the Canadian Football League for the Edmonton Eskimos where he played from 1978 to 1983 and was a force to be reckoned with.  After making a name for himself, NFL teams had a bidding war to put Warren on their team as a quarterback.  The Houston Oilers won the battle and Moon played there from 1984 until 1993 before being traded to the Minnesota Vikings (1994-1996).  He later signed with the Seattle Seahawks (1997-1998) and finished his career with the Kansas City Cheifs (1999-2000).  During his NFL career, Warren played in 208 games while throwing 3,988 completions in 6,823 attempts racking up 49,325 passing yards 291 touchdowns and 233 interceptions.  He also holds the record for most recovered fumbles (56) and most fumbles made (162).  He was named to nine Pro Bowl games and was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2006.  He was the first modern African-American and first undrafted quarterback to be elected to the Hall.  Warren Moon is one of two people that are in both the NFL hall and the CFL hall. 

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John Elway - Denver Broncos
John Elway - Denver Broncos

#5) John Elway - 300

John Elway played college football and baseball at Stanford from 1979 to 1982. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals right out of high school, but chose college instead. In 1981 he was drafted by the New York Yankees and played minor league ball for them for two seasons while still playing college football. He was drafted in the first round as the first overall pick in the 1983 NFL draft by the Baltimore Colts, but demanded to be traded to a team with a chance of winning or threatened to return to professional baseball full time. Eventually Elway's demands were met and he was traded to the Denver Broncos in May of 1983, and Denver became the only team of his 16 year professional career. Over the course of this time, John played in 234 games while completing 4,123 passes of 7,250 attempts, gaining 51,475 yards, 300 touchdowns, and 226 interceptions. He currently holds the record for most times sacked in a career with 516, which is most likely a reflection of his offensive line over the years instead of him. He was selected for nine Pro-Bowls and lead his Broncos to five Super Bowls in 1986, 87, 89, 97, and 98 seasons. Elway led the Broncos to victory in Super Bowl XXXIII and won the Most Valuable Player award for the game -- months later he announced his retirement from the NFL. In 2004, John Elway was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Fran Tarkenton - Minnesota Vikings
Fran Tarkenton - Minnesota Vikings

#4) Fran Tarkenton - 342

'Scramblin' Fran Tarkenton played 18 seasons in the NFL.  He attended college at the University of Georgia (1958-61), leading the Bulldogs to an SEC championship in 1959.  He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 1961 in the third round as the 29th overall pick.  He played the Vikings from 1961-66 before being traded to the New York Giants.  During his first years in the league, Tarkenton developed a reputation as a scrambler, one of the first quarterbacks in the league to use such a technique.  It was his use of the scramble that led to many arguments with the Vikings owner and probably his trade to the Giants.  He played with the Giants from 1967-71 before being traded back to the Vikings, where he played until he retired after the 1978 season.  During the 70's, Scramblin' Fran led the Vikings to three Super Bowl appearances, but could never manage to win one.  During his career, he completed 3,686 of 6,467 pass attempts for 342 touchdowns, 266 interceptions, and 47,003 yards in 246 games.  He ended his career with a 80.4 QB rating.  Also, he managed to rush for 3,674 yards for 32 touchdowns on 675 carries.  He was selected to nine Pro-Bowls, six time All-Pro, and was the 1975 NFL Most Valuable Player.  Tarkenton was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

Peyton Manning - Indianapolis Colts
Peyton Manning - Indianapolis Colts

#3) Peyton Manning - 366

Peyton Manning is one of two players on this list that are currently active at the time of this being typed. With that being said, some of the stats I list may be out of date by the time you read this. Peyton attended college at the University of Tennessee (1994-97). During his time as a Tennessee Vol, he demolished school records, set several SEC records, won over a dozen awards, and became a legend in Tennessee. In 1998, he was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round as the first overall picked. He set five NFL Rookie records his first season, and has continued to get better over the years. He led the Colts to win Super Bowl XLI and take home the title of Most Valuable Player of the game. He has been selected to 9 Pro-Bowls, 7 All-Pro selections, and won the NFL MVP in 2003, 04, 08. As of this time, he has completed 4,232 of 6,531 pass attempts for 50,128 yards, 366 touchdowns, and 181 interceptions. He currently has a career QB rating of 95.2 -- second only to Steve Young.

Dan Marino - Miami Dolphins
Dan Marino - Miami Dolphins

#2) Dan Marino - 420

Dan Marino comes in at number two on the list with 420 touchdowns.  He played for the University of Pittsburgh from 1979-82.  He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 1983 NFL draft in the first round as the 27th overall pick.  Due to an ailing knee, Marino was the sixth quarterback to be selected that year behind John Elway, Jim Kelly, Ken O'Brien, Tony Eason, and Todd Blackledge.  He only started two games his rookie season, but his second season proved to be a record breaker.  In his 1984 season he won the NFL Most Valuable Player.  He led the Dolphins to Super Bowl XIX, but came up short against Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers.  His career was plaqued by some injuries and playoff losses (finished with a 8-10 playoff record).  He announced his retirement in 1999 when the Dolphins refused to pick up his option.  During his career he set many individual records while completing 4,967 passes in 8,358 attempts for 61,361 yards, 420 touchdowns, 252 interceptions, and retiring with a 86.4 career QB rating.  He was a nine time Pro-Bowl selection, eight time All-Pro selection, and held nearly every quarterback record at some point in his 17 year career.  He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

Brett Favre - Green Bay Packers
Brett Favre - Green Bay Packers

#1) Brett Favre - 497

Brett Favre is number one leader of passing touchdowns and the other active player on this list beside Peyton Manning, so the statistics may be out of date when you read this. Favre was a scholarship player for the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles(1987-90) where he still holds many records. He was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1991 NFL draft in the second round as the 33rd overall pick, but was not a favorite of head coach Jerry Glanville and received little playing time. He only threw four passes his rookie season: two interceptions including a pick-6 and two incompletions. He was trading to the Green Bay Packers after the season and the Favre dynasty blossomed. He played for the Packers for 16 seasons, leading them to two Super Bowls but only winning one (Super Bowl XXXI). After the 2007 season, Favre announced his retirement, but after a few months of retired life he returned to professional football for the New York Jets(2008). He played there one season before again retiring. Once again, before the 2009 season, Favre announce he still wanted to play again and joined the Minnesota Vikings as QB. During the 2009 season, Brett Favre became the only QB to beat all 32 teams in the National Football League. As of this time he has completed 6,083 of 9,811 pass attempts for 69,329 yards, 497 touchdowns, and 317 interceptions in 289 games. He currently has a career QB rating of 86.6, been selected to 10 Pro-Bowls, and is a six time All-Pro selection. Favre is a sure fire future Pro Football Hall of Famer -- if he can ever stay retired long enough.


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    • Fran Michaels profile image

      William Gibstat 

      4 years ago from NY

      Congratulations to Peyton Manning! Time to update the list!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Because he never won many playoff games, a lot of people don't realize just how statistically proficient Dave Krieg was. Really enjoyed your article.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      YOu need to update this page, Tom Brady is now 7 and 2 more will go to 6.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

    • KingDrew profile imageAUTHOR

      Drew Bobbitt 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks for the comment Emicam!!

    • Emicam profile image


      8 years ago from Beverly Hills, CA

      Great information and well written! Good job!


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