Rivers on RG3: 'It's always easier to ask these questions afterward' If there's someone who understands what Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III experienced last weekend it's San Diego's Philip Rivers. It's not just that he suffered a torn knee ligament in a playoff game; it's that he played through it, too. In fact, he played the entire 2007 AFC championship game with a completely torn ACL that would later require surgery. "So I can relate," he said. "It's hard to know what you can and cannot do." What Rivers could do that January was what RG3 could not last weekend -- namely, make it through the game without further injury. Rivers played courageously, but, in the end, suffered the same result as Griffin. He lost. Nevertheless, Rivers never second-guessed his decision to play then, and he doesn't second-guess RG3's decision to play now. And that's after Rivers had to overcome enormous hurdles just to make it to the conference championship game vs. New England -- undergoing surgery the previous Monday and not returning to practice Friday. His situation is not dissimilar to what RG3 experienced, though the Redskins' rookie quarterback was more of a certainty entering last weekend's game with Seattle than Rivers had been five years earlier. "He went through the game the week before," Rivers said, "and he handled things unbelievably. It was clear by the way he was running (early in the Seattle game) that he wasn't himself. I mean, everyone could see that. But the guy battled, and if that snap hadn't happened near the end of the game we wouldn't be talking about this. "Obviously, you could see he wasn't the same, but nobody was saying anything when they were ahead 14-0. Now, was the guy going to go 70 (yards with the football)? Absolutely not. It was only afterward that people started talking about this." By contrast, few questioned the Chargers after Rivers gutted out the conference championship game. Though he tore up his knee the weekend before in an upset of Indianapolis, he held out hope that maybe, just maybe, he could return in less than week -- and there were two reasons why: 1) Physicians told him that if he underwent immediate surgery to repair torn cartilage in the same knee that had the torn ACL he might recover in time, and 2) his mother telephoned him to notify him that Jan. 20 was the Feast of St. Sebastian. "That's the spiritual side to that story," said Rivers. "There are patron saints for everything, and St. Sebastian is the patron saint of athletes. It just so happened that Jan. 20 was the date of the game, so when Mom told me, I said, "there's no way I'm not going to play." I really believed I was going to play. "It wasn't a question of what more damage I could do to the ACL because there was no ACL. Doctors just told me that if I didn't get a 'scope' (arthroscopic surgery) I would miss the game because 'the meniscus is going to be an issue for you.' " So Rivers underwent the surgery on his right knee that Monday, was on crutches Tuesday, worked through tireless rehabilitation exercises Wednesday and Thursday and gained clearance to practice by the end of the week. He was listed as "doubtful" on that day's injury report. "There was something surreal about it," he said. That's one way of putting it. Another is: It's a miracle the guy was able to play. Yet he did, but only after physicians assured him he could not damage the knee further. But that wasn't the issue. This was: How much pain could he handle, and how stable would the knee be? And when Rivers met with coaches prior to the game he brought up one more: How effective could he be on one leg? The only way of finding out was to play, and Rivers did. He took every snap, led the Chargers to four scoring drives and almost willed a team that was without LaDainian Tomlinson for all but two series and was forced to play a crippled Antonio Gates to a near upset of then-undefeated New England. In the end, neither Rivers nor the Chargers had enough to overcome the Patriots, losing 21-12. "I never felt like it wasn't the right thing to play," said Rivers. "I never felt as if I was going to put myself in more danger. And I say that believing it was the best thing for the team. I felt that if it wasn't then I wasn't going to do it." Similar emotions were expressed by Griffin before and after Sunday's loss to Seattle -- with coach Mike Shanahan taking heat for leaving his quarterback in the game to suffer a severe knee injury that could threaten his future. As Rivers was careful to point out, his situation was not exactly the same as Griffin's. First of all, he couldn't damage his knee more. Second, his game is different than RG3's, with Rivers not as reliant on his legs. Third, he wasn't playing on a field so miserable that winning coach Pete Carroll later called it "horrible." "It was weird," said Rivers."It's almost hard to describe. I wasn't in much pain, but there were times when the knee just gave out on me. The pain wasn't unbearable. It was just an instability where the knee kinda wobbled on me. I don't feel it hindered me in the game, and I don't think there were plays I didn't make that I would have had I been healthy. The only thing is that when I was rolling out ... when I was flushed to the right .. I couldn't slow down. It was like a decelerating 18-wheeler. It was like a runaway. "But I do remember on the second or third drive when I threw a pass to Chris Chambers I fell back on the back of my foot, and (the knee) buckled. I remember thinking that if this is the way it's going to be that I can't possibly keep going." But he did. Shortly afterward, Rivers underwent surgery to repair his torn ACL and was playing again by the start of the 2008 season. Surgery may be in RG3's future, and an extensive recovery could be, too. In the meantime, Shanahan is left to answer what then-San Diego coach Norv Turner was not in January, 2008 -- which is why he left his quarterback in the game when he had a suitable backup on the bench and why he didn't pull him when it was apparent he was handicapped. "It's always easier to ask these questions afterward," said Rivers. Philip Rivers should know. As a matter of fact, he does.