It’s silly blaming Philip Rivers for the lack of success we’ve seen from the San Diego Chargers over the last couple of years considering the awful offensive line he has in front of him. What is obvious, regardless of quality erosion in his protecting unit, is that Rivers is struggling to get it done in the fourth quarter recently.
Maybe it’s directly related to a bad offensive line, one that manages to block the pass rush early in the game, but gets exposed and beaten more and more as the game goes on, until it finally collapses in the fourth.
The Houston Texans weren’t extremely disruptive of Rivers’ throw in the 31-28 win on Monday Night, but they did look a lot more dangerous and effective in the blitz during the fourth quarter. Rivers finished with 14-of-29 for 195 yards, four touchdown passes and an interception. But the important thing is when each part of those numbers came.
Rivers was 13-of-22 with four touchdown passes through the first three quarters. In the fourth? He completed only one pass out of seven, threw the interception that resulted in a Brian Cushing touchdown. Rivers had to get rid of the ball in that situation, but he made the wrong choice by throwing to someone who was covered by a player and was heading into the linebacker.
Since the beginning of last season, Rivers is by far the worst quarterback in the NFL when it comes to the fourth quarter: an NFL-worst 7.7 4th-quarter Total QBR, which also includes 13 interceptions. The next in line behind Rivers? Brandon Weeden at 15.6, but still not as bad as Rivers. His 4th quarter QBR against the Texans? 0.02, almost the lowest you can receive.
It’s very similar to the collapse against the Broncos from last season, when the Chargers allowed 35 points after leading by 24. Rivers was intercepted three times in the final quarter. The Chargers ended that game with 5 drives that were either a 3-and-out or an interception.