NFLStarting 5

Their one and only is Peyton Manning

As Peyton Manning approaches the NFL career touchdown pass record this Sunday (he needs two to tie, three to surpass Brett Favre’s mark of 508), most fans can recall the players who caught the bulk of his touchdown throws.

Tops on that list are his former Indianapolis Colts targets Marvin Harrison with 112 touchdown receptions, followed by Reggie Wayne (67), Dallas Clark (44) and Marcus Pollard (34). His current Denver Broncos teammate Demaryius Thomas has 28 touchdown passes from Manning and counting.

On the other end of the spectrum are nine players whose lone regular-season career touchdown was on a pass thrown by Manning.

Four of these players will be featured on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown (10 a.m. ET) in “One Hit Wonders” – a piece about Manning’s impending record reported by Jim Trotter.

“One Hit Wonders” is the brainchild of associate producer Dominique Goodridge, with contributions by associate producers Meghan Robinson and Tory Zawacki. Goodridge provided background on the piece to Front Row.

How do you conceive such a unique idea?
Our show’s coordinating producer, Greg Jewell, was looking for a different approach to spotlight Peyton’s potential record-breaking weekend. So I started looking into the players on the receiving end of his touchdowns. I noticed there were several players with a single Peyton Manning touchdown reception. As I dug into the list even more, I found that for nine of these players, the single touchdown from Manning was the single regular-season touchdown of their respective careers. I immediately thought – “If you had a chance to catch a single touchdown in the NFL, it would be pretty cool to have it come from Peyton Manning and be part of NFL history.”

What were some of the challenges in tracking and interviewing the players/former players?
Our regular workflow starts with pitching a story idea on a Monday to getting the feature on air on a six-day turnaround. That is challenging enough with a single interview subject. Meghan and Tory were quite helpful, tracking down some of the players and flying out to shoot interviews while I was at the others. We interviewed four for the piece.

Who was the most unique interview subject among the group?
What I found most interesting about the four players we interviewed was the variety in terms of where these players are now. One player, Mitch Unrein, is a defensive tackle for the Broncos. Aaron Moorehead, who in 2006 caught Peyton’s 272nd career touchdown, is currently the wide receiver coach at Virginia Tech. Dan Klecko works for an insurance company.

Finally, Trevor Insley, who caught the 108th touchdown pass, is now a firefighter in Los Angeles. Insley told me he hadn’t seen the play since the week it happened. So I brought a copy of his touchdown play with me. I showed it in the viewing room of the firehouse so he and his fire-fighting colleagues could watch it together. Their reaction was great and immensely rewarding.

Peyton Manning’s “One Hit Wonders”
For nine players who have caught TD passes from Peyton Manning in NFL regular-season games, that score also was the single regular-season TD of their respective careers
Receiver, team Date Details
Jim Finn, IND Nov. 19, 2000 Manning’s 75th TD pass, 4th qtr at GB, 5 yards
Trevor Insley, IND Dec. 16, 2001 Manning’s 108th TD pass, 2nd qtr vs ATL, 19 yards
Mike Roberg, IND Nov. 3, 2002 Manning’s 124th TD pass, 4th qtr vs TEN, 2 yards
Aaron Moorehead, IND Dec. 24, 2006 Manning’s 272nd TD pass, 2nd qtr at HOU, 9 yards
Dan Klecko, IND Dec. 31, 2006 Manning’s 274th TD pass, 2nd qtr vs MIA, 2 yards
Luke Lawton, IND Dec. 2, 2007 Manning’s 298th TD pass, 4th qtr vs JAC, 1 yard
Tom Santi, IND Oct. 5, 2008 Manning’s 310th TD pass, 4th qtr at HOU, 7 yards
Gijon Robinson, IND Nov. 21, 2010 Manning’s 383rd TD pass, 2nd qtr at NE, 1 yard
Mitch Unrein, DEN Dec. 2, 2012 Manning’s 426th TD pass, 1st qtr vs TB, 1 yard

Courtesy ESPN Stats & Info