Philip Rivers, quarterback of the San Diego Chargers showed his ability to perform football-miracles. Playing an entire NFL game with an injured back and ribs in and of itself can be defined as a miracle. Maintaining iron-clad composure despite his Charger team trailing by more than 20 points at halftime seems almost super-human. What is more, by the third quarter of the contest, against the San Francisco 49ers, Rivers had thrown not two, but three interceptions with one concluding defensively in a pick-six.
Rivers threw soft passes early on that floated away from Chargers and into the hands of 49ers. He looked uncomfortable in the pocket and noticeably out of sync. Some NFL insiders said that his lackluster game play early on was probably due to his injuries. The quarterback made a number of poor decisions that put the Chargers on the back-burner for much of the game.
Even Rivers commented on his first half play, “…the first half was just throw [the ball] to the other team and [then] stand on the sidelines.” It was a miracle that Rivers never unraveled as the game was slowly washing out the Chargers’ playoff hopes play-by-play. The game became embarrassing to watch stated some San Diego fans. Andrew Burer of the UT San Diego press wrote, “he dug his teammates into a hole.”
However, there was a team change after halftime when the 11-year pro started to recapture his on-the-field-magic and perform football miracles. Before long, NFL insiders began changing their tunes. Although it was not River’s best game in his career, insiders announced it was by far the most impressive game they had seen from Rivers all year. The quarterback saved his best part of the performance for last, which was nothing short of a miracle.
During the second half, mid way through the third quarter, number 17 found his rhythm and played his never-say-never style of football. He was performing at full throttle at that point according to NFL insiders. On this Saturday against a hungry 49ers team, Rivers played beyond that which would have been expected of a mere mortal. He became super-human with renewed energy, strength and unbreakable grit.
Miracles took hold for Rivers and the Chargers late in the third quarter. He closed the gap on a 21 point deficit by leading his team to a 60 yard drive. Antonio Gates stamped the drive by catching a one-yard score.
Soon thereafter, defensive lineman Corey Liuget hit pay-dirt after recovering a fumble in San Francisco’s end-zone. This defensive score narrowed the gap to seven points, until the 49ers elusively fast quarterback found the end-zone on a 90-yard scamper putting the 49ers up by 14 points.
With game time running out and just under nine minutes remaining in regulation, here came the real Philip Rivers bringing along more football-miracles. Starting deep in his own territory, he put together a nine play drive that found Gates again for a 21 yard score.
After getting the 49ers off the field with a punt, the Chargers were again ready to move the ball from deep in their own territory. Rivers moved the team effortlessly down the field until he was sacked on the 49ers’ 43 yard line creating a fourth-and-8 with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
With pressure building and the game clock ticking, Rivers called up yet another miracle by completing a 26 yard strike to an out stretched Eddie Royal that completely silenced the 49er crowd. On the next three plays in the series the quarterback failed to connect with a receiver. The Chargers facing another fourth down situation needed a football miracle especially with under 60 seconds left in the game.
Desperate for a first down, Rivers found Dontrelle Inman for 17 yards. A couple plays later the drive ended when Malcolm Floyd came through on an 11 yard score to tie the game at the end of regulation. Chargers went on to win in overtime by a score of 38 – 35 with assistance from kicker Nick Novak.
The Chargers quarterback finished the game with a passer rating of 82 percent. He completed 33 of 54 passes for 354 yards. Philip Rivers did not play his best game, but he dialed up a number of football miracles precisely when the team needed them most.
By D’wayne Stanelli
Photo courtesy of Greg Buch | FFSwami.com – Flickr License