ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For many of Philip Rivers’ earlier 13 seasons as the Chargers’ beginning quarterback, he has earned his personal distinctive place amongst many in and round the Denver Broncos.
Possibly it has been all of the fist pumps between touchdowns, or the fevered chirping at the officers, or simply what seems like, from the outdoors, the greatest trash-talker the Broncos see on any subject in virtually any season.
“He is perhaps the solely quarterback who really talks smack the entire recreation,” mentioned Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who has confronted Rivers 15 occasions in his profession, playoffs included.
The Broncos get their 26th crack at Rivers on Sunday in the StubHub Heart — the divisional-spherical playoff recreation after the 2013 season included in that substantial record — and this time round, Rivers simply is perhaps doing a few of his greatest work proper now. He’s the league’s No. three-rated passer, behind solely Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes, to go together with 21 touchdowns and 4 interceptions together with his crew at 7-2 and on a six-recreation successful streak.
And if historical past is any information, he once more could have some issues to say to Broncos defenders in his personal distinctive means. As a result of whereas Rivers’ actions and facial expressions might counsel the phrases popping out of his mouth are greater than R-rated, he hardly ever even rises to the degree of PG.
“I simply love his aggressive spirit,” mentioned Broncos nostril sort out Domata Peko. “You don’t have to curse and stuff to be robust. You might be simply as robust with out cursing. However that’s the kind of particular person he’s — he’s an excellent chief, he leads this crew. He’s been main this crew for years now. One among the greatest quarterbacks in the recreation, I feel.”
Even Broncos linebacker Von Miller, who at all times professes to love “to carry individuals collectively,” mentioned Rivers was an acquired style. Rivers was already in his sixth 12 months as a starter and in his eighth 12 months total when Miller was the Broncos’ first-spherical choose in 2011.
And Miller mentioned it took from that rookie season till the Professional Bowl after the 2016 season for him to change his thoughts.
“I actually didn’t like the man till two years in the past at the Professional Bowl,” Miller mentioned. “After I met him, once we simply kicked it at the Professional Bowl, I used to be simply blown away by what kind of man he was on and off the soccer subject. I acquired quite a lot of respect for him simply being round him at the Professional Bowl … You’re driving the bus, at the Professional Bowl you’re driving the bus, in the locker room, you’re simply round the guys and you’re like, ‘This man is cool. I like the man.'”
The Broncos, nonetheless, have completely different emotions about his on-subject antics.
“His trash speak doesn’t actually trouble me — ‘I acquired the first down, sucker’ — it doesn’t actually trouble me. Some guys it does, however I like taking part in in opposition to Philip,” Miller mentioned.
“[It’s] as a result of he whines quite a bit on the subject — he does whine quite a bit,” Harris mentioned with a smile. “I might say guys in all probability get uninterested in him whining, however aside from that … I may play with him simply because you recognize he’s going to do no matter he can to strive and will his crew, strive to get each name from the ref. That’s simply how Rivers is, man. He’s going to be screaming at the ref simply as a lot as he’s at us.”
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However that’s all simply parsley on the plate for the Broncos this week, as a result of all of them concede Rivers’ degree of play at the second is the actual downside. He hasn’t been sacked greater than twice in any recreation this season and has at the least two landing passes in every of the Chargers’ 9 video games to this level.
The Chargers have supported him in an offense that has rushed for 127 yards per recreation (No. eight in the league) and a protection that’s amongst the league’s high 10 in sacks and interceptions. The Broncos merely see a Chargers crew constructed higher than in some latest years.
However in the finish, the Broncos know what they’re going to get, and they wouldn’t have it every other means.
“We wish to beat him and you recognize he needs to beat you unhealthy,” Harris mentioned. “He’s in all probability drawing up one thing to idiot me proper now, simply to get me. I’ve acquired to be prepared for something.”