If this is a once-in-a-lifetime season for Peyton Manning, Dan Marino knows the feeling. He lived it in 1984, when he tore up defenses for 48 touchdown passes and 5,084 yards.
The 48 touchdowns were a single-season NFL record then and now, but not for long.
Sometime in the next two weeks, Manning will blow past Marino for a date with his record-book destiny.
Manning has thrown 44 touchdown passes through 12 games for the Indianapolis Colts, a pace that will give him 58 for the season. That would render Marino's prolific effort of 20 years ago for the Miami Dolphins a piddling second-best.
But at least in one regard, Manning and Marino always will share a common bond. It is in their mastery of the position and their dominance of the era. As was Marino in 1984, Manning is now unstoppable on the field.
"You have to have that confidence, and you have to feel like that," Marino said. "I'm sure Peyton feels like that now, that he can go out there and do what he's doing and get everything accomplished with the weapons that he has.
"As a quarterback, you have to feel that way. You have to have that confidence that you're not going to be stopped."
The retired Dolphins quarterback and future Hall of Famer was a reluctant interview during his 17 NFL seasons. But yesterday in a national conference call, Marino enlightened reporters with insights on the Manning phenomenon before relinquishing one of his cherished records.
Among the points Marino made:
If his single-season record had to fall, Manning was the right man to bring it down.
The league's emphasis on illegal contact in the secondary has had a major effect on increased offense this season, but Manning would've set a new standard without that aid.
That he would not trade his career highlights and numerous league records for the Super Bowl championship ring that eluded him.
A few weeks ago, Marino, in his role as studio analyst for CBS' The NFL Today, bemoaned the fact teams weren't trying to blitz Manning more often. Now, he sounds accepting of the inevitable.
"For a guy to do it the way Peyton is doing it, he has a lot of class and he's everything that's right about the NFL and playing the quarterback position," Marino said. "He's a hard worker, the work ethic is there. If anybody is going to do it, you'd like to see a guy like Peyton [do it] because of what he's done and the type of person that he is."
There are parallels in the performance of the two quarterbacks. In 1984, the Dolphins went 14-2 and led the NFL in scoring with 513 points.
With four games left, the Colts (9-3) have scored a league-high 431 points, a pace that would produce 574 and topple the Minnesota Vikings' 1998 record of 556.
"I felt like I was able to control a game with the people that we had offensively, kind of dictate what we wanted to do," Marino said. "And you can see that in Peyton, that's what he does.
"Every quarterback you look at, no matter if it's [John] Elway or [Joe] Montana or [Brett] Favre or myself or Peyton Manning, everybody has their own style. What you love about him is he gets it done as smooth as anybody ever has, for sure."
Four touchdowns away from tying Marino, Manning faces the Houston Texans on Sunday and the Ravens in Week 15. The Texans have given up a league-high 29 touchdown passes this season.
Manning has played down his run at the record book and did so again yesterday in his weekly news conference when asked if he'd like to put the record behind him.
"Like I said, I hate to keep killing you with these boring answers, but I just can't get into it," he said. "Teams are playing you different ways. I thought Tennessee [last week] was really cognizant down there in the red zone of playing the pass.
"They had a couple of defenders that were just staring at Brandon Stokley the entire time, and Edgerrin James is running with the ball untouched."
When Marino broke the record of 36, held by George Blanda and Y.A. Tittle, his leading rusher was fullback Woody Bennett. There was nothing like the media attention accompanying Manning's pursuit of the mark.
"I always thought that 48 was something you could look at and say, wow, if you can throw 48 touchdown passes, you're having a heck of a year. [Peyton] is pretty much getting to that pretty easily this year," Marino said.
"I think in the process of winning games, [if] you're able to do that, it's something that's pretty special. You know, I threw 44 two years later after I threw the 48, and I thought that was a lot, too."