FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — No one wants to inform Philip Rivers he has by no means overwhelmed the quarterback who can be on the opposite aspect of the sector Sunday in an AFC divisional-spherical playoff sport in opposition to the New England Patriots. The Los Angeles Chargers quarterback is aware of full nicely about Tom Brady’s excellent document in opposition to him. He additionally is aware of that whereas Brady can just about block out his calendar yearly for the AFC Championship Sport, it’s an engagement that has eluded Rivers for greater than a decade.
These aren’t minor particulars that get misplaced on a quarterback who has been across the league for 15 years and has a photographic soccer reminiscence. Rivers would have remembered beating Brady and the Patriots, particularly if it had been in both of their two playoff matchups early in his profession when Brady threw three interceptions in every sport.
However these had been a very long time in the past, and these alternatives to be a part of Brady within the Tremendous Bowl winners’ membership haven’t come round usually for Rivers lately. Final Sunday afternoon in Baltimore was Rivers’ first playoff sport in 5 years. This Sunday in opposition to the Patriots may very well be a seminal second in his profession if he can outduel his extra completed playoff counterpart for the primary time.
|Steve Bartkowski-Archie Manning||9-zero|
|Steve Younger-Jim Everett||Eight-zero|
|Tom Brady-Philip Rivers||7-zero|
|Jim Kelly-Jeff George||7-zero|
“Clearly, Tom’s frightened about our protection identical to I’m theirs, however it’s fairly particular to have a chance once more to go in opposition to a quarterback-led group in Tom Brady,” Rivers mentioned this week.
Rivers and Brady have met seven occasions beforehand. The one victory for Rivers and the Chargers in opposition to the Patriots got here when Matt Cassel was in for an injured Brady in 2008.
“I used to be not conscious of that,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn mentioned. “However that’s up to now. That’s what I give it some thought. It’s up to now. We’ve a chance to do it on Sunday. Let’s profit from it.”
Regardless of New England being a 4-level favourite, many think about the Chargers to be the higher all-round group or at the very least a really vigorous underdog.
The competition will characteristic the oldest pair of beginning quarterbacks in postseason historical past, with Brady at 41 years previous and Rivers having just lately turned 37. That could be a mixed 78 years and 198 days between the 2.
“Good. Good and previous,” Brady mentioned with a smile on Friday. “That’s a fairly good one proper there. That’s fairly cool. It’s simply enjoyable to be round.”
Brady defined that he nonetheless relishes the chance to play the sport he loves. That’s straightforward to say when he’s on the verge of reaching an eighth straight AFC Championship Sport.
This season was a revival for Rivers and the Chargers (12-Four), who completed with a greater document than the Patriots (11-5) for the primary time since 2009.
“It’s not one thing you consider a complete lot,” Rivers mentioned of his document in opposition to Brady. “It exists and is there, and I imply this: I don’t really feel I’m enjoying Tom.
“Definitely, it’s a Tom Brady-led group, and we all know how issues work with the quarterback and the top coach and who has the document connected to it. We’ve a heck of a problem with our offense going in opposition to their protection. … You’re conscious of that stat that’s on the market, but it surely’s not one thing I spend a lot time interested by.”
That’s as a result of the rivalry is just about nonexistent. Rivers and Brady have performed in opposition to one another simply twice up to now seven seasons. Rivers admitted they don’t have a lot of a private relationship and haven’t crossed paths usually off the sector through the years. That’s nearly odd contemplating their longevity and the final quarterback fraternity that exists.
Nevertheless it’s actuality. Brady has gone on to be an everyday in title video games with a handful of Tremendous Bowls, whereas Rivers resides within the Dan Marino class of greatest quarterbacks to by no means win one.
“All of us work laborious to get to this level. These items aren’t assured,” Brady mentioned. “Very powerful to get to this level within the season. Each group 4 months in the past thought they’d be enjoying in these video games. The truth is that isn’t the way in which the NFL is. We’re very lucky and have to exit and take a look at to reap the benefits of it.”
|Yds per att||7.2||6.1|
There was a time when it appeared Rivers-Brady was headed within the route of what Brady-Peyton Manning grew to become. Eight years into Brady’s profession, he had confronted Manning thrice within the postseason and Rivers twice.
These had been in Rivers’ first two years as a starter, and he was simply 26 and quickly enhancing. Absolutely there can be extra after that memorable 21-12 Patriots victory within the AFC Championship Sport throughout the 2007 season when Rivers performed with a torn knee ligament. They lastly meet once more with one thing critical at stake 11 years later.
“Yeah, I imply, that was a very long time in the past,” Patriots coach Invoice Belichick mentioned. “I don’t assume that sport actually has a lot to do with something.”
It does have one thing to do with all of it coming again full circle for Rivers. He has an opportunity to exorcise his demons. He returns to Foxborough, the location of that championship sport loss, and to a venue the place he has by no means won.
The obstacles lengthen past the Patriots, who had been Eight-zero at residence within the common season. Early forecasts name for a excessive of 27 levels on Sunday. Rivers is 1-Four in his profession (together with playoffs) when the sport-time temperature is at or under freezing. He hasn’t performed in such a sport since 2014.
• One highschool, two Tremendous Bowl MVPs
• When Rivers performed by means of torn ACL in playoffs
• The unappreciated humor of Jared Goff
• Luck’s masterpiece: Comeback vs. Chiefs
• Division MVP, rookies, award winners
• Playoffs schedule, Tremendous Bowl LIII protection
“Actually? That’s loopy,” Patriots security Devin McCourty mentioned. “I don’t assume it’s going to trouble him a lot.”
Rivers has thrown seven touchdowns and 6 interceptions within the 5 profession video games in freezing temperatures, an setting during which his counterpart has thrived. Brady is 24-7 with 63 landing passes and 24 interceptions in chilly-temperature video games; his .774 win proportion ranks proper on the high of quarterbacks to begin at the very least 5 such video games. Rivers’ .200 win proportion ranks 31st out of 32 qualifying QBs.
The chances are stacked in opposition to Rivers and the Chargers, who play on the East Coast for the second straight week. The excellent news: They’re Eight-zero in video games exterior of Los Angeles and convey maybe their greatest group to New England since that final championship sport loss.
This may very well be Rivers’ final — and greatest — likelihood to get Brady, the Patriots and that ring.
“There’s no denying,” Rivers mentioned, “you realize that you simply don’t have a ton of years left.”