QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
HT: 6-5, WT: 228, Born: 12-8-1981, College: North Carolina State, Drafted: Round 1, Pick 4
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Average draft position
Current as of August 25th. [Full ADP list]Overall: D Woodhead (97), W Welker (98), Philip Rivers (99), B Pierce (100), Z Ertz (101)
Position: J Cutler (92-QB13), R Wilson (94-QB14), Philip Rivers (99 - QB15), A Dalton (104-QB16), B Roethlisberger (113-QB17)
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Rivers is a veteran passer known for his football intelligence, quick release, and accuracy when he gets to step into the pocket. He is a classic drop-back passer: he is a big, immobile quarterback with an excellent command of the offense, but is a liability when he is forced from the pocket and tries to improvise. He therefore depends more than most quarterbacks do on his offensive line to give him consistent protection. He has shown the ability to be a solid fantasy starter: he's been a top-five fantasy quarterback in three of the last six years. When his protection falters, however, he becomes error-prone and turns the ball over too much. While his durability is a plus, his inability to get fantasy points as a runner puts him at a disadvantage as more QBs have become true duel-threats in recent years. Consider him a high-end fantasy backup with the potential to significantly outperform his draft position if he can build on last year's success under Mike McCoy.
|1||at Arizona Cardinals|
|3||at Buffalo Bills|
|5||New York Jets|
|6||at Oakland Raiders|
|7||Kansas City Chiefs|
|8||at Denver Broncos|
|9||at Miami Dolphins|
|12||St. Louis Rams|
|13||at Baltimore Ravens|
|14||New England Patriots|
|16||at San Francisco 49ers|
|17||at Kansas City Chiefs|
2013 Game Summaries
Week 1 - Much has been written about the struggles of Philip Rivers over the last two seasons and his inability to close out games in the fourth quarter. Once again, Rivers alternately looked flawless and maddening for fantasy owners. He threw four touchdown passes and was crisp with his passes heading into the fourth quarter, but it all got away from him down the stretch. Part of it was San Diegoís inability to run the football with any effectiveness after halftime, but a large portion of the blame is shouldered by Rivers as well. His very first pass of the game resulted in a touchdown pass to RB Ryan Mathews, a beautifully thrown ball that led the halfback by his defender and into the end zone. For the remainder of the first half, Rivers stood tall in the pocket and stepped into all of his throws. It was a very different Rivers than weíve seen the last two seasons Ė that version looked skittish in the pocket, hurried his throws, and often threw off his back foot due to the oncoming rush. In this game, the Chargers gave him shorter drops, quicker passes, and much better protection than he has seen in recent years. And on the occasions that he was under duress, he wisely tucked the ball away and/or covered it up with both hands to avoid the costly turnovers. On one such play, he tucked the ball under his arm and took off up the field for a first down scramble. Despite looking over his shoulder nearly the entire time, the play resulted in an 18-yard scramble, the longest run of his career. Two of his touchdown passes were a result of nice individual effort (one by Vincent Brown who caught a short pass and lunged at the end zone, and another by Eddie Royal who caught a quick pass in the slot and dove forward for the score). The other two scores were perfect passes by Rivers, one on the aforementioned wheel route to Mathews and the next one a perfect fade pattern to the back left corner of the end zone to Royal (a play which Rivers audibled to after seeing the defensive setup). The second half opened much like the first half did, with a beautifully thrown deep ball to WR Malcom Floyd that resulted in a 47-yard gain. He was getting loads of time, making smart decisions, and moving the ball. Then just as suddenly, it all went bad. Rivers went 13-22 with four touchdowns over the first three quarters, but completed just 1-7 in the fourth quarter and made a critical game-changing mistake. In the middle of the fourth quarter, he tried finding RB Danny Woodhead. He may have rushed the throw a bit, but it was mostly just a phenomenal effort by LB Brian Cushing to make the diving pick (not to mention, get up and return it the other way for a touchdown). Despite getting the ball back again, Rivers was unable to move the offense back into scoring range and several drives stalled. The Texans didnít allow the San Diego defense to get off the field late, and Rivers never had a chance to lead his team back to attempt a tie.
Week 2 - Itís been a night and day difference from last season in terms of protection for Rivers. In this game, he was given loads of time to throw by his offensive line all game long and was rarely under duress. Sacked just once, Rivers consistently made smart decisions and stepped into throws (something he was rarely able to do at all last season). Rivers not only didnít turn it over at all, but he actually never even came close to turning it over. Amazingly, Rivers didnít even throw his first incomplete pass until 8:44 remained in the first half. He was particularly adept on third down, converting 10 of 15 opportunities. The San Diego offense was so efficient that they controlled the ball for over forty minutes in the game. Unlike previous seasons, Rivers did not sit back and wait for his receivers to get past the defense. He still threw it deep down the field, but most of the deep routes were actually underneath the defense. Once the receivers had it, it was on them to get by the defenders and make plays. On the rare occasions that he was under duress, he felt the pressure and managed to get rid of the ball just in the nick of time, saving the team from negative plays and turnovers. All three of Riversí touchdown passes went to WR Eddie Royal, and all three were thrown short of the goal line so that Royal could do the rest. The first was a toss in the flat, and Royal sprinted to the pylon and dove just inside the line for the score. The next was a wide open pass to Royal at the five yard line, and he walked in untouched from there. And the last was a designed screen pass, featuring excellent blocking up the field and a clear pathway for Royal to burst upfield for the score. He could have had a couple more, but TE Antonio Gates fumbled one right at the doorstep of the goal line and then later dropped a sure touchdown pass that was right in his hands in the end zone. On San Diegoís eventual game-winning drive, the Chargers opened with an empty backfield and let Rivers pass the ball into field goal range, suggesting a lot of confidence in a player who has had his share of turnover problems in recent years.
Week 3 - Rivers continued his excellent 2013 play in this game. While the numbers werenít nearly as eye-popping as they were a week ago, he was every bit as effective and efficient. Without locking onto any one receiver, Rivers distributed the ball around the field with precision, accuracy, and touch. His offensive line, down another man due to the concussion suffered by G D.J. Fluker, protected him well and gave him a number of clean throwing lanes. If he had a favorite receiver in the game, it was TE Antonio Gates, who saw the most activity and the teamís lone receiving touchdown. The touchdown came on the opening drive of the game, thrown in the end zone into very tight coverage. Gates made a fantastic individual effort to go up high and snatch it away from the defender at the very last moment. That score extended San Diegoís streak to open the season with a touchdown on the opening drive of each game so far. There were several plays that really illustrated just how much better Rivers looks this season than in past years. On one pass, he connected with TE Ladarius Green perfectly in stride over the middle, and Rivers looked calm and poised even though he wasnít ready for the snap and it actually bounced up into his hands by way of his knee. It helps that his line is protecting him better, but Rivers himself just looks a lot more relaxed (well, as far as game play is concerned. More on that later). He nearly connected with Gates in the second half for a score on a pass play over the middle. Gates was taken down right at the doorstep of the end zone after getting knocked down at the 1-yard line. The drive resulted in a Ronnie Brown touchdown run. So Riversí afternoon could have been even better. His afternoon could have really been a lot better if it wasnít for two plays that were more reminiscent of the 2011-2012 Rivers (referenced earlier). After an offensive pass interference call against the Chargers negated a would-be touchdown to WR Eddie Royal, Rivers got in the face of one of the officials and was eventually whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The two flags back to back moved the Chargers from the 5-yard line all the way back to the 30-yard line. Late in the game, with San Diego in desperation mode and trying to toss the ball all over the field to try to find a seam to score, Rivers ended up kicking the ball across the field to a teammate. A veteran in the league had to have known that wasnít a legal play, so there was no real reason to have done it aside from sheer frustration. It is moments like that when you realize his maturity can still hold him back at times. That being said, his quarterbacking was for the most part excellent. The only time he turned it over was when he overthrew a long apses attempt to Royal. Fortunately for San Diego, Tennessee was whistled for a pass interference penalty which negated the turnover. It was a bit of a bail-out for Rivers, because it likely would have been badly overthrown and picked off even without the interference call.
Week 4 - Riversí remarkable resurgence continued in this game, as he played masterfully the entire game. About his only mistake came late in the first half when he was hit as he threw and the ball popped straight into the air. It was intercepted, and returned for a Dallas touchdown. In many other games, that would be a crushing play for Rivers. But in this game, he simply took it in stride and resumed his outstanding play immediately after. He spread the ball around to the open man (six different players caught at least three passes in the game) and didnít lock onto any one guy. TE Antonio Gates just happened to be his favorite target, but the throws to Gates were never forced. Right from the opening drive, Rivers looked like a man on a mission. He threw a deep ball on his first pass attempt of the game to Vincent Brown up the right sideline, but the ball was a bit underthrown. For the rest of that drive, he was flawless. He connected with WR Keenan Allen on a nice back shoulder fade to convert a third down play for 31 yards. Rivers then perfectly lofted a swing pass down the sideline to RB Danny Woodhead, who ran under it for the score. It wasnít the last time those two would connect for a score, as he opened the second half with another wheel route to an uncovered Woodhead for their second touchdown connection of the game. At one point, the Chargers ran 23 consecutive offensive plays to end the first half and start the second half. Along the way, Rivers tied a career high with 13 consecutive completions. He was just so efficient and precise with what he was doing, it looked like vintage Philip Rivers again. He nearly added his third touchdown pass of the game to an open Keenan Allen along the back line of the end zone, but under pressure, Rivers just threw the ball away. That long drive ended with a disappointing field goal. But on San Diegoís ensuing possession, Rivers heaved a perfect deep ball down the seam to a streaking Gates for a 56-yard touchdown. It was the 200th touchdown pass of Riversí career. Coincidentally, Riversí 100th career touchdown pass also went to Gates and came against the Cowboys. Despite losing yet another lineman to injury, Rivers looked calm and comfortable in the pocket, withstanding whatever limited pressure Dallas tried to apply. Itís only been four games, but Rivers is very much looking like the player he was from 2006-2010 again.
Week 5 - Rivers has experienced a resurgent season so far in 2013, but this wasn't one of his better days. He put up big counting stats, but he wasn't as efficient or as crisp as he's been for much of the season. Not to mention, he turned the ball over a whopping three times. The night began rather inauspiciously on the team's opening drive when he heaved up a third down bomb to WR Eddie Royal deep downfield. It looked like Royal got bumped by a defender and had his route off, but it was unclear whether he would have been able to get to it anyway. Essentially, the play acted like a punt for San Diego, so it wasn't terribly costly. He misfired on a couple of other pass plays to his receivers, but started to settle down in the second quarter. He drove the team downfield to the doorstep of the goal line and had a wide open Antonio Gates for what should have been an easy score. Gates was lined up wide and if Rivers had thrown it right to him, he could have caught it and waltzed in. Instead, Rivers tried to lead him a bit and the ball was thrown too far out in front of Gates, falling for an incompletion. In the second half, Rivers started putting up big stats. He got a lot of time in the pocket and good throwing lanes, and was able to really step into his throws. He was pressured a handful of times, but it was few and far between. Rivers appeared to have thrown his first touchdown of the game on a deep ball to WR Keenan Allen in the back corner of the end zone, but on review the officials ruled that Allen never got his second foot down (and his knee had touched down out of bounds). On the team's next drive, RB Danny Woodhead fumbled the ball away and it was returned for an Oakland touchdown. That made the game 24-3 which was bad for San Diego, but good for Rivers as the Raiders softened up the defense. He lofted a deep ball 51 yards downfield to Brown, who made a nice adjustment on the ball. Later in that drive, he "threw" a touchdown pass on a shovel pass to the aforementioned Woodhead. Rivers didn't do much to get the pass, but it goes in the books as a forward attempt. On the next possession, he looked to have thrown a long touchdown to Brown, but once again the touchdown was negated. This time, it was an illegal formation flag that canceled it out. But no matter, Rivers connected with Woodhead to move them close to the end zone, and he found Keenan Allen over the middle for the score on the next play. It was a simple pass and catch over the middle, but Allen made an incredible effort to shake free of the tackler and break into the end zone. With San Diego trying to get back in the game, Rivers marched the team downfield to the doorstep of the goal line. But while trying to find a wide open Allen along the back line of the end zone, he threw it well behind him. Allen was open for a long time, but Rivers never saw him until it was too late. Shortly thereafter, the Chargers got the ball back and again tried to drive downfield. This time, Rivers overthrew a streaking Eddie Royal and was intercepted for the third time in the game. He didn't play as poorly for most of the game as the three turnovers suggest, but he also didn't play as well as the 400+ yards and two touchdowns would suggest, either.
Week 6 - Rivers' excellent play continued in this game. Ironically, it was the success of the running game that led to somewhat pedestrian counting stats for Rivers. The Chargers have typically struggled to move the football on the ground this season, but in this game they were very effective. That meant in the second half, the team really focused on moving it on the ground and running that clock down. They dominated the time of possession, keeping the ball out of the hands of Colts superstar QB Andrew Luck for most of the game. When Rivers did get a chance to put it in the air, he was excellent. Completing two thirds of his passes for over seven yards per attempt and zero turnovers is a pretty efficient complement to a solid run game. Early in the game, Rivers' accuracy seemed a bit off. He wasn't being hurried much, but the timing just wasn't there. He took a couple of deep shots, one to TE Antonio Gates and one to WR Vincent Brown, neither of which had any chance of being completed. About the only time he had any success in the early going was when he looked to WR Keenan Allen. Allen did a great job on one particular route of getting by two defenders deep down the middle and into the end zone. Rivers hoisted a perfect pass that led him away from the defenders so that he could dive under the pass and roll into the end zone for the game's only touchdown. After that point, Rivers had good timing and better precision with all of his receivers. He sat back in a comfortable pocket for much of the second half, getting loads of time and picking his spots. After a lot of people questioned the San Diego offensive talent early in the offseason, suddenly Rivers looks to have a full stable of weapons at his disposal once again. Even on the rare occasions that he couldn't find anyone and was under pressure, he wisely tucked the football away and prevented any turnovers (quite unlike the 2012 version of Rivers that tried to make something happen on every play, only to see the turnovers pile up).
Week 7 - Rivers played about as close to a perfect game as you can get. In a game that saw him go over 30,000 yards for his career, he completed his first ten passes, most of them of the high percentage variety. There were not a lot of attempts deep down the field, but that has become somewhat the norm for the Chargers this season. The team relied heavily on the run game, with 40 rush attempts to just 26 passes. But when they did ask him to make a play, he came through just about every time. The offense did not punt the ball until less than eleven minutes remained in the game, further emphasizing just how efficiently this offense operated. Unfortunately for Rivers owners, the offense was so efficient that the Jaguars never really had a chance to compete in the game. That meant San Diego didn't really need to put up huge passing stats in order to come away victorious. Rivers' only touchdown pass of the game came early on a deep pass down the sideline to WR Eddie Royal. Royal caught it short of the end zone, but stretched out to reach the pylon and get in for the score. Rivers came close to scoring on a couple other occasions to his new favorite target, WR Keenan Allen. Allen made a sliding catch and wasn't touched down. He got up and took off for the end zone, but was tackled from behind. On the ensuing set of downs, Rivers repeatedly tried getting the ball to Allen in the end zone, but a couple of penalties and a throwaway did not get the job done. Then came Rivers' first and only mistake of the afternoon. With no timeouts and the Chargers near the Jacksonville goal line with seven seconds remaining in the half, Rivers took off on an ill-advised scramble up the middle. He came up short of the goal line and the first half clock expired, resulting in the Chargers not putting any points on the board. Jacksonville couldn't capitalize in the second half, but it was not a great move by a veteran quarterback and against a better team, it could prove more costly. In the second half, Rivers was again on fire but once again when they got down close to the goal line they couldn't push it across through the air. A shovel pass to TE Antonio Gates ended up falling short, and for the first time in awhile the Chargers actually had success running the ball on the goal line (they had two rushing scores in the game). As the San Diego schedule gets tougher in the second half of the season, one can expect them to be playing a lot of competitive games and some of these efficient performances can turn more explosive.
Week 9 - Rivers entered the game as one of the league's most efficient and accurate passers all season long. While he wasn't bad in this game, he wasn't his usual pinpoint self. A lot of that had to do with the Washington pass rush, which definitely applied more consistent pressure on Rivers than he has faced in nearly any game in 2013. He was off on a couple of early targets to WR Vincent Brown and delivered an awkward (even for him) deep ball attempt to TE Antonio Gates that hit the defender in the back of the helmet. Rivers also threw two bad interceptions. One of them likely was not his fault, as Brown broke to the outside as Rivers delivered the ball to the inside of the field for the easy pick. The second was on Rivers, as it was a poor throw over the middle to WR Keenan Allen. Perhaps Allen could have fought for the ball a bit harder, but the pick was still on Rivers. Even in the second half when San Diego mounted a comeback, a lot of his passes did not go where they were supposed to. The pass rush of Washington just disrupted the timing on most routes, and passes were either just a bit long or just a bit short or just out of reach of the intended targets. But even despite all that, he still put up very respectable fantasy numbers. His first touchdown was a perfectly-executed WR screen to Eddie Royal. Rivers audibled out of the original play call and set up the screen to Royal. A quick pass to the outside, followed by a sprint to the end zone, featuring excellent blocking up the field, and it all culminated in a score. His second touchdown went to a wide open Keenan Allen. The rookie WR made an outstanding juke move at the line to fake out his defender, and Rivers easily delivered the long pass for the touchdown. This came shortly after the interception on the ball intended for Allen, and a huge drop over the middle by Allen for what could have been a very big gain. So with the end zone pass and the bevy of activity that ensued, it was safe to say that Rivers hadn't lost faith in his new favorite target. With just over two minutes remaining and San Diego down by three, Rivers got the ball at his own 8-yard line. His line gave him plenty of time in the pocket and he proceeded to pick apart the Washington defense. He even converted a 4th and 2 with a long pass play to Allen down the sideline (he was uncovered after a botched defensive coverage). Rivers got the team down into the red zone, and looked poised to win the game right then and there. He found RB Danny Woodhead over the middle with a short pass. Woodhead made a leap for the end zone, and was initially ruled to have gotten in. After officials took a look at the replay, however, it was ruled that the ball never crossed the plane. The Chargers followed that up with a Woodhead run and a corner fade to TE Antonio Gates that went nowhere, and ended up kicking the game-tying field goal. They never got the ball again as Washington scored a touchdown on its first possession in overtime.
Week 10 - Rivers wasn't quite as efficient as he has been for most of the season, and a large part of that likely had to do with the heavy amount of pressure he was put under by the defense. A perfect illustration of just how much pressure he was under would be the five rushing attempts he had in this game (none of which were designed scrambles). Rivers stood tall whenever he could, but there were a lot of instances where he was hurried or flushed from the pocket and forced to make throws he didn't want to make (or at least not when he wanted to make them). On the rare occasions that Denver backed off a bit, Rivers tried to make them pay. He took a deep shot to WR Vincent Brown in the end zone, but Brown couldn't hold onto the ball in the end zone. There was another pass play where Denver rushed just three linemen, and Rivers sat back in the pocket seemingly forever while waiting for someone to break free. TE Antonio Gates finally did down the sideline, and the two hooked up for a 24-yard pass play. In the second half, the team started attacking with more quick passes and slants than in the first half. This may have been partly strategy, but also partly out of necessity after Rivers lost yet another starting offensive lineman, this time his LT King Dunlap. His lone touchdown pass came on a quick pass over the middle to RB Danny Woodhead, who snatched it out of the air and turned upfield to dive in under the defense for the score. Despite all the pressure being applied by Denver, Rivers still didn't turn the ball over thanks in part to WR Keenan Allen breaking up a pass that could have been intercepted. He did record his first fumble of the season when he looked away too quickly and failed to secure a snap out of a shotgun formation, but it was recovered by San Diego.
Week 11 - Rivers was mostly efficient in the game, but the team just lacked the typical explosiveness we've seen from the offense (this despite completing passes for 35, 27, and 20 yards in the game). Most of the big plays were short passes that featured a lot of running after the catch, and the team again struggled in the red zone. Rivers got his lone mistake of the game out of the way early on. He intended a pass for WR Vincent Brown near the sideline off a deep ball. It was well over his head and not close, but on replay it looked like Rivers expected Brown to break towards the sideline instead of the middle of the field. Shortly thereafter, he threw probably his two best passes of the game. The first was a perfectly-thrown ball right in the hands of TE Ladarius Green for a deep ball down the sideline. He floated it just over the defender off a rollout of all plays, which went for big yardage. Soon, Rivers neutralized the earlier interception by throwing a touchdown to TE Antonio Gates. Gates beat his man right off the line, and the two hooked up on an easy diving score over the middle. As the game went along, Rivers found himself under more and more pressure. Despite the success of the running game, his receivers were having some difficulty getting much separation. That resulted in Rivers holding the ball a bit longer than usual and taking a couple of costly sacks. Even when he wasn't sacked, his throws tended to be hurried a bit. He nearly connected on a second touchdown pass, this time to WR Keenan Allen, but nearly ended up with disastrous results. Allen slipped and fell coming out of his break, and Rivers' pass (which was on-target if Allen had been standing up) went right to a defender. Fortunately for him, it was dropped for an incompletion. On the team's last-gasp desperation drive and needing a touchdown, Rivers took two pretty bad sacks when he couldn't find anyone open. With the clock quickly running down, Rivers did get them in position for one last "Hail Mary" pass to the end zone but his heave to WR Vincent Brown ended up getting batted down in the end zone for an incomplete pass.
Week 12 - The recent stat lines from Rivers have been efficient but lacking explosiveness. Heading into a matchup against one of the league's best defenses, many owners looked elsewhere to find greater upside than what Rivers was likely to deliver. In other words, most fantasy owners missed out on one of his best statistical games of the season. He got started early with a slant to WR Keenan Allen that put him over 3,000 passing yards for the eights consecutive season. Rivers to Allen would become a running theme, as the two connected a whopping nine times for 124 yards (including eight for 104 in the first half alone). It worked perfectly in San Diego's favor that Kansas City blitzed so much, because they did an effective job of picking it up and the slant routes by Allen and company were the perfect antidote for the Kansas City pass rush. On many occasions, Rivers looked to be in trouble only to release the pass at the last possible moment to his target. He has been locked in this season in terms of anticipation of the defense, and this game was no exception. There was one occasion early in the game where he was nearly picked on a deep ball down the sideline to Allen, but the defender let the ball go right through his hands. Rivers quickly made up for that near-gaffe by delivering a perfectly-thrown ball near the end zone sideline to RB Danny Woodhead for a score. Rivers had to roll out to his left and throw across his body, but he placed it precisely where it needed to be. But Rivers saved his best for the second half. He completed a long 54-yard bomb to WR Eddie Royal down the right sideline. He had beaten his man and the ball kind of hung up for a bit, but it's unclear whether it would have gone for a touchdown if it had been a bit more out in front of Royal. Shortly after that completion, Rivers threw his second near-interception of the game, this time intended for TE Ladarius Green. Green allowed the defender to jump the route and it really should have been intercepted in the end zone, but he just couldn't hang onto the ball. Fortunately for San Diego, Green was in the mood to redeem himself. On a later possession, he caught a third and 2 pass play over the middle to convert a critical first down. But he didn't stop at just a first down, bursting upfield for a 60-yard touchdown. He oturan several defensive backs on the play, doing the majority of the work on the score. Finally, after seven lead changes, the Chargers got the ball back on their own 22-yard line with just under 1:30 left to play and trailing by four. The first pass of the drive was batted up in the air - twice - but somehow not intercepted by a Kansas City defender. With pressure coming from all fronts, Rivers was nearly sacked on one play and then ACTUALLY sacked on another (a really bad time to take a sack in that instance). But with the prospects for a victory looking pretty bleak, Rivers somehow threw an absolutely perfect pass down the left sideline to a sliding WR Seyi Ajirotutu of all people, for what proved to be the game-winning score.
Week 13 - A week after a dominant effort against one of the league's best defensive units, owners probably expected more from Rivers than what they got. He spent much of the afternoon scrambling all over the place and fighting heavy duress. He had just one official "run" on a scramble, but there were numerous instances of throwing passes on the run (often as he was running up towards the line with a run/pass option), and a great deal of passes were rushed before they were ready to be made simply because the Cincinnati defense was bearing down on him. Rivers did a great job just to avoid making any huge mistakes. Even the one turnover wasn't entirely his fault. He put the pass right on the hands of TE Antonio Gates, but Gates couldn't maintain possession and allowed it to bounce off his hands and into the arms of the defender. Despite Gates' fault on the play, it was ruled an interception of Rivers. He did have a pass get batted up in the air for another near-interception, but Rivers managed to bat it down at the line before any damage was done. The lone touchdown pass Rivers threw was a perfect ball right down the middle, splitting two Cincinnati defenders and finding TE Ladarius Green perfectly in stride. Green was wide open off of the play action fake and took it to the house once Rivers found him, for a 30-yard score. Rivers' favorite target was once again clearly WR Keenan Allen, and the two continue to show a rapport that belies their 12 weeks of in-game action working together. They look as if they've been playing together for years. Despite some late-game heroics from the duo at times this season, this game was not meant to be one of those times. Rivers and the Chargers had a tough time moving the ball on Cincinnati's defense, both through the air and on the ground.
Week 14 - Rivers was highly efficient, turning in another near-flawless performance in a season that would garner him strong MVP consideration in a non-Peyton Manning league. He got off to a fast start, hoisting a 43-yard score to rookie WR and new favorite target Keenan Allen. The ball was slightly underthrown (though still adequate) and Allen ran under it. Once he hauled it in, Allen took off for the end zone and tip-toed the sideline for several yards before vaulting himself towards the pylon for the touchdown. Rivers later found Allen for a second score, this one an easy pass over the top of the defender along the end zone sideline. His third touchdown was a simple checkdown in the flat to RB Danny Woodhead, who walked into the end zone with ease. Rivers' longest pass play also went to Woodhead, a 39-yard bomb down the right sideline that was essentially a jump ball. It was a free play since Dallas had jumped offsides, so Rivers figured he might as well take a shot. Rivers did a phenomenal job under pressure, using his checkdowns and progressions with efficiency, and never really bothered by the Giants pass rush. On several occasions, he showed surprising agility in stepping around oncoming rushers. There were a few patented "Rivers only" throws -- off his back foot, against his body, sidearm, etc, all of which worked well. About the only real mistake he made was when he reverted to 2012 form for one play. He brought his arm forward and lost it mid-throw, then batted it forward and the Giants pounced on the loose ball. In the scramble for the football, he appeared to have been slightly injured and was in fact checked out on the sideline, but he came back in without issue.
Week 15 - In a game that featured arguably the league's two leading MVP candidates, it was San Diego's efficiency on the ground and not through the air that won out. That's not to say Rivers played poorly; just that his passing prowess took a back seat to the rushing duties of Ryan Mathews and company. Rivers had almost no production after halftime, as the Chargers opted to pound the ball on the ground. They were having a lot of success doing it, and Denver seemingly couldn't stop them, so why bother doing anything else? Fortunately for Rivers owners, he managed to connect on a couple of scores with his favorite target, WR Keenan Allen, prior to halftime. The first touchdown was a phenomenal individual effort by Allen. He came across the field on a crossing route and took the easy pass from Rivers. But from there, he streaked towards the end zone, leapt over a defender, and bowled over yet another defender at the goal line to push his way in for the score. The second touchdown was likewise a very good effort from Allen, who made a nice adjustment on a slightly underthrown fade pass from Rivers near the end zone sideline. The pass was okay, but not really where it needed to be. Another pass that wasn't really where it needed to be was an end zone pass to TE Antonio Gates. He made a throw that was too high for the big tight end (actually nowhere near him) and was nearly intercepted. But aside from that, Rivers was mostly efficient in moving the ball. He had one instance of mixing it up with the defenders after a scramble in which his helmet was shoved after the play, but by this point it's almost expected for Rivers to talk trash with his opponents during the game.
Week 16 - Rivers had an atypically rough game against Oakland. The Raiders clearly made it a focus of the gameplan to get as much pressure as they could on him, and it worked to some extent. They only managed one sack on Rivers and one of the turnovers they created was actually a gift, but they forced numerous rushed throws and hurried him into bad passes on several occasions. That being said, Rivers responded to the pressure about as well as possible. He didn't do much with his feet, but rather made quick decisions and got rid of the football to find the open man very early in the play most times. Early in the contest, he was charged with a fumble that very clearly was not his fault. He was still going through his pre-snap reads and barking out signals when C Nick Hardwick prematurely snapped the ball. It deflected off of Rivers and straight back to the Raiders, who recovered for the turnover. The other turnover was in fact Rivers' fault. He heaved a pass deep down the sideline trying to force it to WR Vincent Brown. The ball was thrown off his back foot and lacked the depth necessary for Brown to even have a play on it. RB Danny Woodhead appeared to be open over the middle of the field as well, making it that much worse. Rivers looked furious with himself after the play. In the second half, he was able to regroup and reduce the mistakes although he was still far from perfect. He twice misfired on passes over the middle to WR Keenan Allen, one of which could have gone for an easy touchdown. Allen had broken free and could have walked in for the score, but Rivers, throwing on the run, fired it well behind him. Of course it wasn't all bad for Rivers. He connected with WR Eddie Royal several times on critical third down pass plays, looking off his primary options and checking down to Royal at the last moment very nicely. And again, despite missing on the touchdown connection to Allen later in the game, the two had earlier connected for a relatively easy one. There was probably an illegal pick on the play when the aforementioned Royal screened out Allen's defender, but no call was made and Rivers fired a bullet to Allen on the slant for the touchdown. After the wide open missed opportunity over the middle, the two again came close to hooking up on another touchdown. Rivers lofted a fade to Allen in the back corner of the end zone, but it went off his fingertips for an incompletion. It would have been a tough grab if he could have made it. One thing has become evident the last few weeks - when San Diego gets near the red zone, Allen is clearly his go-to option, and all others have taken a back seat.
Week 17 - Facing a Kansas City squad largely comprised of backups (the Chiefs had nothing to play for having locked in the 5th playoff seed last week), Rivers put up nice numbers but with a bit less efficiency than we've seen from him this season. Despite the lack of starters in the game, Kansas City still managed to mount a solid pass rush. At times, the San Diego offense looked completely out of synch. In fact, it wasn't until late in the contest when the offense really came alive, marching downfield for a touchdown drive and a field goal drive in the fourth quarter -- each drive taking up over four minutes and lasting at least nine plays. Rivers connected for three scores in the game, two of which were touch passes that were caught in the end zone and one that was caught in the field of play and run in. But all three were precision passes from Rivers with perfect accuracy. The first was a floater to TE Ladarius Green in the front corner of the end zone. With a defender's arm right in his face, Rivers managed to get the ball away to Green just in time and right on the money. The second touchdown was a relatively easy pass to TE Antonio Gates, who had beaten his man off the line and got wide open on the play. The third took a little more detail, as Rivers had to wait for WRs Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal to criss-cross one another. Rivers delivered a perfect pass out in the flat with pin-point accuracy. A large reason why the Chargers were close enough to get those short scoring plays was because of how effective they were running it, so Rivers had plenty of help from Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead. On the team's last drive of regulation, they got close to scoring range for a possible game-winning touchdown, but couldn't punch it in. There was a big sideline pass to Allen that went for 38 and took them into scoring range, but two incompletions and a busted Rivers run later, and the team was kicking a game-tying field goal instead. In the overtime, Rivers marched the team downfield (thanks again in large part to the running game) to put the team in field goal range. One of the key plays on that drive was a perfect floater out in the flat to RB Danny Woodhead to convert a third down play. Once again, the drive chewed up a huge portion of the clock and led to what turned out to be the game-winning field goal. That's not to say Rivers' afternoon was flawless. With so many short passes, he ended up averaging less than seven yards per attempt. And he did throw an interception (though in fairness, it wasn't his fault. Allen had slipped coming out of his break and Rivers threw the ball where he SHOULD have been. Unfortunately for San Diego, Allen was still on the ground and the defender easily caught it).
Week 18 - In terms of completion percentage, Philip Rivers has been flat out awesome this season, completing 69% of his passes. Against Cincinnati, he continued that trend, completing 75% of his passes, not turning the ball over, and running an extremely vanilla offense. The Chargers rarely took shots downfield, completing 5 of the 12 completed passes to running backs. On the few occasions when Rivers did go downfield, he was right on the money. On the first drive of the second half, Rivers aired it out and the Chargers found success. First he hit Keenan Allen on a pass across the middle, and then he followed that up with a bullet to Green for a first down. Then Rivers dropped a 33 yard bomb down the right sideline right into Eddie Royalís hands for a redzone opportunity. Rivers finished up the strong drive by throwing a perfect fade route to Ladarius Green for a 4 yard TD. After that touchdown, which made the game 14-10 Chargers, the Chargers got extremely conservative, which seemed like an odd decision with Rivers playing so well. Mathews was injured and the inability of Ronnie Brown and Woodhead to convert some key short yardage situations led to two field goals. Despite the fact that the Bengals were practically giving the game away, the Chargers failed to capitalize, settling for two field goals, and keeping it a ten point game. This might seem like an ok decision if your QB was unreliable, but had Rivers been given the opportunity, they may have been able to ice things quicker. As it stood, the defense held firm, and a late Brown TD run ended up icing the game. Playing this conservative against the Broncos, should they get a lead, would be a disastrous mistake. Rivers is a great QB and needs the ball in his hands.
Week 19 - Philip Rivers was frustrated and stymied by Denverís defense for most of the afternoon, with just one net passing yard at halftime and 25 yards at the start of the 4th quarter. He wasnít helped by an offensive line that suffered several miscommunications and blown blocks, allowing Denver defenders a free run and allowing pressure on over a third of Riversí drop backs. Once the fourth quarter rolled around, Rivers really came alive, with 173 passing yards. He was aided by an injury to Denverís starting cornerback, Chris Harris, which left the Broncos relying on Riversí old teammate, Quentin Jammer; 95 yards and a TD came with Jammer in coverage, as Rivers torched him deep early and often. In the end, Riversí rally came too late, as he never got another chance to touch the ball after cutting Denverís lead to a single score, watching helplessly from the sidelines as the Broncos ran out the remainder of the clock.