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Rivers gets redemption while making Bolts look smart

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Nov 8, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- And that is why San Diego wanted Philip Rivers.
    With one drive Sunday, he demonstrated to San Diego, New York City and millions of television viewers why he was the quarterback the Chargers wanted over Eli Manning and why he was the quarterback they wanted over Drew Brees

    He was accurate. He was poised. He was smart with the football. And he won.
    In short, he was the Philip Rivers the Chargers thought they were getting in the 2004 draft when they traded away Eli Manning for him and three draft picks. I know he's been that way for years, but he's never been that way against Manning because the two never faced each other.
    Until now.
    "Did I have something to prove?" Rivers asked after the 21-20 come-from-behind victory. "Well, yes and no. I didn't necessarily have anything to prove because I was as thrilled as anyone to go to San Diego. I had a relationship built [with coaches] because of the Senior Bowl, and that is where I wanted to go. So it wasn't at all like the Giants didn't want me; I ended up where I really hoped I would end up.
    "But you come in here, and this is the team that traded three picks away, and this was my one and only opportunity to play here. We won't even be back here in this stadium. So, yeah, it is special. That just adds to it."
    The victory was enormous for the Chargers, with the club pulling off its third straight victory and first of the season over an opponent with a winning record. But it was bigger yet for Rivers, who was taken by the Giants with the fourth pick of the 2004 draft, then traded away for Manning, who had campaigned against the Bolts taking him.
    In the end, it worked out for Manning and the Giants. He didn't go to San Diego, and New York went on to win a Super Bowl. But it worked out for Rivers and the Chargers, too. He went where he was welcome, and the Chargers have themselves one of the top young quarterbacks in the game. OK, so he doesn't have a Super Bowl ring. But he took the Chargers to the 2007 AFC Championship Game, and he's won twice as many games as he lost since taking over for Brees in 2006.
    "I don't see any quarterback being better than Philip," said tackle Marcus McNeill. "He throws the ball better than almost anybody. And he knows what's going on. And that's where he excels over almost anybody."

    It is where he excelled on Sunday. On the game-winning drive he played with the confidence that marked previous come-from-behind wins, only there were no previous come-from-behind wins over Eli Manning and the Giants. Not only did he shake off a potentially fatal interception on the previous series, he took the Chargers 80 yards in just eight plays in the last two minutes to pull off their biggest victory of the season.
    It was reminiscent of a similar performance by Rivers in Nashville two years ago when he rallied the Bolts to an emotional victory over Tennessee -- with Rivers returning from a knee injury to tie the game on the club's last series of the fourth quarter, then winning it in overtime. The club never lost again until the conference championship game.
    "This is very similar," said Rivers, "We needed an emotional win. No sleight to Kansas City and Oakland, but those games we went into expecting to win. This was the kind of win we needed because we lost the big games this year we've been in."
    There was Baltimore. And there was Pittsburgh. And Denver, of course. But this time the Chargers were up against an opponent that staked everything to the event, with Giants coach Tom Coughlin calling it a "one-game season" and linebacker Antonio Pierce the club's "Super Bowl." With the Giants in a three-game tailspin, the message was clear: They could not, would not, lose another one going into this week's bye.
    Yet they did, and blame it on Rivers.
    "New York talked all along about how they lost three in a row, they're 5-3 and they needed the win going into the bye," said a relieved Norv Turner, coach of the Chargers. "I think that sort of stirred up our guys because we needed this win, too. Our guys knew the importance of this. There's a big difference between being 5-3 at the break and 4-4.
    "With what we went through -- a lot of injuries, a lot of situations where we asked a lot of new and younger players to play -- I think we've kind of climbed out of that hole. We played a lot better tonight, but it's easier to do when you go out and win a game the way we did."
    There is no question the Chargers' defense has been better lately, and it was pivotal in turning the ball over to Rivers with two minutes left. But, let's face it: If Rivers isn't lights out on the Chargers' last drive the Bolts aren't celebrating a victory that seemed destined to escape them ... until, that is, Rivers came to the rescue.
    "We definitely needed a spark," McNeill said. "We had to go on the road and beat a good team. That's something we haven't done this season. And we came and beat one of the better teams in the NFL. When you do that it gives you a certain level of confidence."
    Rivers has never lacked confidence, and he certainly didn't on the Chargers' last possession. He wasn't sacked, he wasn't threatened and he hit six of eight passes. He also dialed up the big play when it was necessary. Two in particular stand out on that drive -- the first a quick pass to running back Darren Sproles, who ducked behind a linebacker, and ran for 21 yards, and the second the winning strike to Vincent Jackson, an 18-yard pass to the right corner of the end zone.
    It was the second, of course, that Rivers and all of San Diego will remember. The moment Jackson clutched the football, Rivers turned and ran a New York block, high stepping down the field while waving his hands in the air.
    "Those authentic 'spaz-outs' are the most fun," he said later. "You can't quite control yourself. I don't know that [beating Manning] was the reason, but this one ranks right up there with [the victory over] Indy on the road in the playoffs a couple of years ago."
    That was Eli's brother, Peyton. But Peyton Manning wasn't traded for Rivers. Eli was, and try as he might Rivers couldn't dodge the questions about the symbolism of Sunday's victory.
    "That link [with Manning] is going to be there," he said, "but quarterbacks aren't on the field at the same time. We're not playing one another. But anytime you're playing a team with a quarterback who has won a Super Bowl who is the caliber of player he is, it's fun. Obviously, knowing the link with the draft it didn't weigh in my thought process going into the game, but you knew it was there."
    Hey, it's always there. And since I mentioned Brees earlier let me make something clear. The Chargers didn't get rid of Brees; they let him walk in free agency after he suffered a serious shoulder injury in the 2005 season finale -- an injury that scared off all potential suitors but New Orleans. Monday morning quarterbacks want to charge the Chargers with keeping the wrong quarterback, but they're not giving you the complete story. Brees was hurt, and he was a free agent. Rivers was healthy and waiting for his chance. Moreover, the club had such a conviction about him it was willing to peddle away Manning.
    Now you know why.
    "Quick now," I asked McNeill, "Rivers or Manning?"
    "Philip Rivers all day," he said. "It's not even close."
    For one day, at least, it was not.
  2. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2005
    San Diego hasn't lost to the Giants this century! :icon_eek:

    They've won the last 2 games versus them!


    2009 - Chargers 21, Giants 20

    2005 - Chargers 45, Giants 23

    The Bolts though lost in 1998 in San Diego to the Giants thanks to the piss-poor performance of he who shall not be named.
  3. BoltzRule

    BoltzRule Well-Known Member

    Jun 4, 2006
    Eli against the Chargers = 0-2.

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