NFL, Elias reviewing Peyton Manning passing record: lateral or pass?

Peyton Manning's single-season passing record might not stand.
Peyton Manning's single-season passing record might not stand. (USATSI)

In Week 17 against the Raiders, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning broke the single-season record for passing yards, beating Drew Brees old record by a single yard. But he might not hold onto the record for long.

The NFL is reportedly reviewing a 7-yard pass by Manning to Eric Decker with about a minute remaining in the first quarter, which could very well be wiped off the books. If it was wiped off, Manning's record would be voided as well.

No telling if the NFL was tipped off by Reddit (!) -- the league reviews all plays, of course -- but a user there noticed that Manning's pass to Decker may have actually been a lateral and therefore a rush. 

On the play in question, Decker lined up in the slot (click all photos to embiggen):

Decker basically steps backwards with Manning making a quick-hitting throw. Here Manning is cocking his arm back to throw:

When Manning releases the ball there's very little question that Decker is behind him (the ball is in the air at this point):

And when Decker makes the catch, he and Manning are insanely close in terms of what yardage marker they're on:

According to the NFL rulebook, a forward pass requires "the ball initially moves forward (to a point nearer the opponent’s goal line) after leaving the passer’s hand(s)." 

Clearly when Manning begins to throw, Decker's not at a point closer to the Raiders goal line. But when Decker catches the ball, which is where Manning technically is throwing the ball, you could argue that Decker is closer. 

It's incredibly close and it would be beyond stunning if the NFL decided to retroactively take away the single-season passing record from one of the most popular players in the game.

We've already seen one controversy with Manning and the record books -- the NFL told the Texans after their loss to the Broncos that a touchdown catch (by Decker!) against Houston shouldn't have counted.

If the NFL flips this one, Manning will finish the season with six yards less than Brees.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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