≡ Menu

The top QB/WR duo by touchdowns, and another top-10 combo.

Three years ago, I looked at the top quarterback/receiving pairings in terms of total passing touchdowns between the two players. Per a comment suggestion, let’s update that list today. The top two pairs have not changed, but there has been some movement in the top ten.

Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates have now connected for 84 passing touchdowns, all of which came in the regular season. The list below includes the playoffs, and Young and Rice have combined for 85 regular season touchdown passes and 7 playoff scores. That means Rivers and Gates are two more touchdowns away from the second most regular season touchdowns in NFL history. Gates is tied for 6th all time in receiving touchdowns (111) with Tony Gonzalez: despite that, Gates has connected with a touchdown more often with Rivers than Gonzalez has with both Matt Ryan and Trent Green combined.

There’s another tight end duo creeping up the list: Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have connected for 76 touchdowns, tied for fifth place on the list. Also at 76 touchdowns: Marques Colston and Drew Brees. The interesting note there: Colston retired without ever catching a touchdown pass from anyone besides Brees.

The table below shows the full list for combinations that have at least 25 touchdown strikes:

RkQuarterbackReceiverTDsLast year
1Peyton ManningMarvin Harrison1142008
2Steve YoungJerry Rice921999
3Philip RiversAntonio Gates842016
4Dan MarinoMark Clayton821992
5Peyton ManningReggie Wayne762010
5Drew BreesMarques Colston762015
5Tom BradyRob Gronkowski762016
8Jim KellyAndre Reed711996
9Joe MontanaJerry Rice671990
9Brett FavreAntonio Freeman672001
11Johnny UnitasRaymond Berry641967
11Aaron RodgersJordy Nelson642016
13Otto GrahamDante Lavelli621955
14Dan MarinoMark Duper601992
15Terry BradshawLynn Swann581981
15Matthew StaffordCalvin Johnson582015
17Troy AikmanMichael Irvin571999
17Daunte CulpepperRandy Moss572004
19John HadlLance Alworth561970
20Matt RyanRoddy White552015
21Drew BreesJimmy Graham542014
22Frank RyanGary Collins531967
22Sonny JurgensenCharley Taylor531974
22Ken AndersonIsaac Curtis531983
22Terry BradshawJohn Stallworth531982
22Ron JaworskiHarold Carmichael531983
27Jeff GarciaTerrell Owens522003
28Ben RoethlisbergerAntonio Brown512016
29Dave KriegSteve Largent501989
29Mark BrunellJimmy Smith502002
29Tony RomoDez Bryant502015
32Len DawsonOtis Taylor481974
32Daryle LamonicaFred Biletnikoff481973
32Neil LomaxRoy Green481988
32Marc BulgerTorry Holt482008
32Jake DelhommeSteve Smith482009
32Peyton ManningDallas Clark482010
32Kurt WarnerLarry Fitzgerald482009
39Jeff BlakeCarl Pickens471999
39Ben RoethlisbergerHines Ward472011
41John HadlGary Garrison461972
41Ken StablerCliff Branch461979
41Warren MoonErnest Givins461993
41Drew BledsoeBen Coates461999
45Ken StablerDave Casper451981
45Dan FoutsKellen Winslow451987
45Brett FavreSterling Sharpe451994
45Ben RoethlisbergerHeath Miller452015
45Aaron RodgersJames Jones452015
45Matt RyanJulio Jones452016
51Johnny UnitasLenny Moore441965
51Joe NamathDon Maynard441972
51Joe MontanaDwight Clark441987
51Warren MoonDrew Hill441991
51Carson PalmerChad Johnson442010
51Andy DaltonA.J. Green442016
57Len DawsonChris Burford431967
57Sonny JurgensenJerry Smith431974
57Jim ZornSteve Largent431983
57John ElwayShannon Sharpe431998
61Y.A. TittleBilly Wilson421959
61George BlandaCharley Hennigan421966
61Aaron RodgersGreg Jennings422012
64Frankie AlbertAlyn Beals411950
64Johnny UnitasJimmy Orr411970
64Peyton ManningDemaryius Thomas412015
67Jay CutlerBrandon Marshall402014
67Philip RiversVincent Jackson402011
67Tom BradyRandy Moss402010
67Aaron RodgersRandall Cobb402016
71Jim HartMel Gray391981
71Steve GroganStanley Morgan391989
71John ElwayVance Johnson391993
71Boomer EsiasonEddie Brown391991
71Aaron BrooksJoe Horn392005
71Drew BreesLance Moore392013
77Dan FoutsCharlie Joiner381985
77Mark RypienGary Clark381992
77Brett FavreDonald Driver382007
77Tom BradyWes Welker382012
81Don MeredithBob Hayes371968
81Roman GabrielJack Snow371972
81Jim EverettHenry Ellard371993
81Tony RomoJason Witten372015
81Matt RyanTony Gonzalez372013
86Dan PastoriniKen Burrough361979
86Dan FoutsJohn Jefferson361980
86Brett FavreRobert Brooks361998
86Matt HasselbeckDarrell Jackson362006
86Eli ManningPlaxico Burress362008
86Russell WilsonDoug Baldwin362016
92Carson PalmerT.J. Houshmandzadeh352011
92Babe ParilliGino Cappelletti351967
92Tom FloresArt Powell351966
92Daryle LamonicaWarren Wells351970
92Richard ToddWesley Walker351983
92Lynn DickeyPaul Coffman351985
92Joe MontanaFreddie Solomon351985
92Dave KriegDaryl Turner351987
92Scott MitchellHerman Moore351998
92Peyton ManningMarcus Pollard352004
92Trent GreenTony Gonzalez352006
92Tony RomoTerrell Owens352008
92Eli ManningOdell Beckham352016
105Len DawsonFred Arbanas341970
105Lynn DickeyJames Lofton341985
105Danny WhiteTony Hill341986
105Philip RiversMalcom Floyd342015
105Alex SmithVernon Davis342012
105Joe FlaccoTorrey Smith342014
111Steve McNairDerrick Mason332007
111Randall CunninghamCris Carter331999
111Cecil IsbellDon Hutson331942
111Norm Van BrocklinElroy Hirsch331957
111Bart StarrBoyd Dowler331969
111Charley JohnsonSonny Randle331966
111Johnny UnitasJohn Mackey331970
111Bob GriesePaul Warfield331974
111Bob GrieseNat Moore331979
111Steve BartkowskiAlfred Jenkins331983
111Ron JaworskiMike Quick331986
111Warren MoonHaywood Jeffires331993
123Kerry CollinsAmani Toomer322003
123Brett FavreBubba Franks322007
123Matt SchaubAndre Johnson322012
126Drew BledsoeTerry Glenn312006
126Sid LuckmanKen Kavanaugh311948
126Johnny UnitasJim Mutscheller311961
126Roger StaubachDrew Pearson311979
126Dan FoutsWes Chandler311987
126Rich GannonTim Brown312003
126Cam NewtonGreg Olsen312016
133Arnie HerberDon Hutson301940
133Otto GrahamMac Speedie301952
133Sonny JurgensenTommy McDonald301963
133Norm Van BrocklinTommy McDonald301960
133Fran TarkentonJohn Gilliam301975
133Roger StaubachBilly Joe DuPree301979
133Boomer EsiasonRodney Holman301992
133Ken O'BrienAl Toon301992
133Donovan McNabbBrian Westbrook302009
133Eli ManningHakeem Nicks302012
133Ben RoethlisbergerMike Wallace302012
133Andrew LuckT.Y. Hilton302016
145Vinny TestaverdeMichael Jackson291997
145Bart StarrMax McGee291966
145Sonny JurgensenBobby Mitchell291967
145Brian SipeOzzie Newsome291983
145Phil SimmsMark Bavaro291990
145Mark RypienArt Monk291993
145Jeff HostetlerTim Brown291996
145Tom BradyJulian Edelman292016
153John BrodieGene Washington281973
153Ken StablerFred Biletnikoff281978
153Danny WhiteDoug Cosbie281987
153Mark BrunellKeenan McCardell282001
153Tom BradyDeion Branch282011
153Kurt WarnerAnquan Boldin282009
153Tony RomoMiles Austin282012
160Tommy ThompsonPete Pihos271950
160Charlie ConerlyKyle Rote271961
160Don MeredithFrank Clarke271966
160Babe ParilliLarry Garron271967
160Joe NamathRich Caster271976
160Fran TarkentonSammy White271978
160Stan HumphriesTony Martin271997
160Warren MoonCris Carter271996
160Chris ChandlerTerance Mathis272001
169Vinny TestaverdeMark Carrier261994
169Tobin RoteBilly Howton261956
169Charlie ConerlyFrank Gifford261960
169George BlandaBill Groman261962
169Charley JohnsonBobby Joe Conrad261966
169Frank RyanPaul Warfield261968
169Norm SneadBen Hawkins261970
169Brian SipeReggie Rucker261981
169Joe FergusonFrank Lewis261983
169Joe FergusonJerry Butler261983
169Dan MarinoNat Moore261986
169Chris MillerAndre Rison261993
169Dan MarinoO.J. McDuffie261999
169Steve YoungTerrell Owens261999
169Kurt WarnerIsaac Bruce262001
169Jake DelhommeMuhsin Muhammad262008
169Drew BreesRobert Meachem262013
169Eli ManningVictor Cruz262016
169Carson PalmerLarry Fitzgerald262016
188Y.A. TittleDel Shofner251963
188Billy WadeMike Ditka251964
188Joe NamathGeorge Sauer251970
188Jim HartJackie Smith251977
188Bert JonesRoger Carr251981
188Steve BartkowskiWallace Francis251981
188Joe TheismannArt Monk251985
188Boomer EsiasonJames Brooks251991
188Bobby HebertEric Martin251992
188Troy AikmanJay Novacek251995
188John ElwayEd McCaffrey251998
188Kerry CollinsIke Hilliard252003
188Michael VickAlge Crumpler252006
188Matt CasselDwayne Bowe252012

Other interesting notes: Randall Cunningham and Cris Carter connected for 17 touchdowns in Philadelphia and 16 touchdowns in Minnesota. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall teamed up for 26 touchdowns in Chicago and 14 in Denver. Terry Glenn and Drew Bledsoe hit 21 scoring strikes in New England, and 10 in Dallas. And the fourth QB/WR pair to connect for double digit touchdown passes for two different teams? That one gets an asterisk: Vinny Testaverde threw 29 passing touchdowns to Michael Jackson: 12 came while the duo was in Cleveland, and 17 after the franchise moved to Baltimore. Obviously that was the same “team” on the field, but NFL records do count them as separate franchises.

What stands out to you?

  • sacramento gold miners

    It’s odd to see Phillip Rivers failing to connect with Antonio Gates for a TD in the postseason. Both players appear headed to Canton down the road, but San Diego has reached only one conference title game during the Rivers era. Gates’ only playoff TD came from Drew Brees.

    • Mark Growcott

      While Rivers has thrown TD Passes to other TE in Playoff games such as to Kris Wilson and Ladarius Green names that likely wouldn’t immediately spring to mind.

    • Richie

      Yeah, that surprised me as well.

      It looks like Gates and Rivers have played in 9 playoff games together and completed 36 passes in the playoffs, but no TDs. For his career, Gates catches a touchdown every 8 receptions and every 1.8 games in the regular season. So we would expect them to have combined for 4 or 5 TD’s in the playoffs. Interesting.

      Gates did play one other playoff game, with Drew Brees, and caught a TD there. So in his playoff career, Gates has 42 receptions in 10 games with one TD.

  • WR

    The totals for Tom Brady are wrong. PFR has the number for Gronk as 67, Moss 39, Welker 34, Edelman and Branch 24.

    • Mark Growcott

      Chase has included Playoff games in his list. I would prefer Regular Season and Playoff totals to be separated.

      • Daniel Menezes

        Yup. Crazy that Marvin had only 2 postseason TDs from Peyton. And I think they were both in the same game, the 2003 Wild Card win over Denver.

        One of them was after he caught a pass, 4-5 Broncos defenders just stood around him while Marvin was lying on the turf. No one touched him so he got up and just ran to the end zone.

      • WR

        Not sure how I missed that, thanks.

  • Josh Sanford

    Boomer Easison made the list three times. I didn’t see that coming. And Johnny Unitas made it 5 times, joining Manning and Brady in that club. Jerry Rice made the list twice, landing in the top 10 both times. And he narrowly missed getting in a 3rd time with Rich Gannon. (16–maybe just one more good season?)

  • Bill the (PBR) Cat

    Thank you, Chase, for doing the update so quickly. It was nagging at me because I’ve seen conflicting numbers for this.

    • Aaron

      Hi Bill … Does this count as moonlighting?

      • Bill the (PBR) Cat

        No, not in any scenario. lol I’m just a stat guy. BTW, Steven Dilling and I just got into it a short time ago on Insiders………… I almost wish hadn’t posted the link to this article. 😉

        You’re up late, I notice. Bored?

        • Bill the (PBR) Cat

          *edited*

        • Aaron

          The Insider Inbox is the only place I comment online. It momentarily struck me as odd to see someone from there on a site I follow through the WordPress reader.

          I’m a night owl, so tend to be up to 1 or 2am. Luckily I don’t start my working day until 10am, so am able to get enough shuteye while going to bed at that late hour.

  • Bill the (PBR) Cat

    Chase, the Rodgers/Nelson pairing can’t be right (though I wish it was). Jordy only has 63 career TD receptions and I know Matt Flynn is responsible for at least one of those (2013 while AR was healing with his broken collarbone).

    • Mark Growcott

      As I mentioned below, Chase has included Playoff games here.

      • Bill the (PBR) Cat

        Thanks! I have no idea why I keep forgetting that. :-/

        • Bill the (PBR) Cat

          So, shouldn’t it be 67 total then, not 64? Jordy has 5 post-season TDs.

          • Mark Growcott

            Nelson has 59 with Rodgers in the Regular Season and 5 in the Playoffs.

            • Bill the (PBR) Cat

              I just figured it out. I forgot about Game 16 in 2011 when McCarthy played Flynn and rested Rodgers. Flynn threw 6 TDs in that game against DET to set a then franchise record (which Aaron has since tied twice). That’s Jordy’s only 3 TD game ever!

              How the hell did I forget that?!? 😉

              Thanks again, Richie!

          • Richie

            4 of Jordy’s TD’s came from Matt Flynn:

            http://pfref.com/tiny/nMwnY

            • Bill the (PBR) Cat

              I need to learn how to use PFR better. I never even knew of this search.

              Thanks, Richie!!

  • John Simmons

    Dan Fouts to Wes Jefferson – 67 TD’s

  • Pingback: Antonio Gates Passes Tony Gonzalez for Most TD Catches by a Tight End All-Time - MySport101()