How bad was Philip Rivers over the last two seasons for the San Diego Chargers? It’s hard to say if he was awful enough to declare this season as his ‘comeback year’, but he certainly didn’t look anything like he is now in terms of accuracy and confidence.
Rivers completed 35-of-42 passes in the 30-21 win over the Dallas Cowboys. His 83.3% completion ratio is the best ever for a quarterback who threw for over 400 yards, as Rivers finished with 401 yards and three touchdown passes, in what seems to be everyone’s description of his comeback season.
I feel the rhythm. I feel comfortable in the pocket. I feel comfortable with the offense, and the way we’re operating. You’ve got to keep going play-to-play, because that can change in one interception for a touchdown. Then can change in one play, so you’ve got to stick with it.
It seems that the new no-huddle offense Rivers gets to run is working wonders for about everything in his arsenal. Even Antonio Gates looks revived, as the tight end finished with 10 catches for 140 yards, including the final touchdown of the game, putting the Cowboys away with a 56-yard reception that ended in the endzone.
The most important thing about Rivers is having more time. The offensive line isn’t much better than last season, but the Dallas Cowboys didn’t send their pass-rush enough to disturb Rivers. He did throw an interception, but it was only his second of the season, compared to a combined 35 in the previous two seasons. Throwing 11 touchdown passes so far, he has become the 34th quarterback in NFL history with 200 touchdown passes.
Rivers was 9-of-11 passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns on throws traveling more than 10 yards downfield. He is now 66.7% this season on such throws, 2nd-best in the NFL. It seems that he also has better targets to throw to: For the second time this season, four different Chargers caught multiple deep throws. Last season, San Diego never had more than three receivers catch more than one deep throw in a game.
It wasn’t all Rivers, obviously. Crezdon Butler had a huge tackle on Terrence Williams that saved the Chargers from giving up a touchdown, and pretty much ended the game. The Chargers played some impressive defense in the second half after allowing the Cowboys to score 20 points in the first 29 minutes of the game.
But quarterbacks always epitomize the motion of their team, and the Chargers, even if they are only 2-2, are feeling better about their ability on both ends of the ball because Rivers is playing like he’s always known how, but didn’t seem to get it across for many reasons, including his own fault, for the last couple of years.