Rivers both a fan and foe of Patriots, Brady
Yes, Philip Rivers is the Chargers’ quarterback who is on a mission to win the first Super Bowl of his glorious 15-year career.
Yes, he will do everything possible to make that happen now that the Chargers, coming off a 12-4 regular season and a 23-17 win over the Ravens in the AFC wild-card playoffs, have advanced to the divisional round.
But Rivers will also take a moment not as the Chargers’ quarterback, but simply as an NFL fan, to behold what he’s about to see on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. It is there the Chargers will face the Patriots, who have dominated the NFL like no other team, winning five Super Bowl championships since 2001 and looking to qualify for their eighth consecutive berth in the AFC Championship Game.
“On some level, I’m a fan of those guys,” said Rivers, who is hoping to join Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger as draft class of 2004 Super Bowl champion quarterbacks. “I have a lot of respect for New England. You’re going against a Bill Belichick team and a Tom Brady-led team. You’re talking about arguably the greatest of all time.”
The 37-year-old Rivers knows his opportunities are dwindling as he ap- proaches the twilight of his career, which is why he never takes these moments for granted. Not now, and not before, as he harkened back to his days battling Peyton Manning when he was with the Colts and Broncos.
“Peyton’s always a favorite,” said Rivers, who was 22-for-32 for 160 yards and led six scoring drives against the Ravens’ No. 1-ranked defense. “It is special to look over and say, ‘Peyton Manning is leading that team over there.’ That’s special to me. Tom Brady’s leading that (Patriots) team, and that’s special. I’m not going against Tom, but it’s special. Just that franchise. They’ve been in eight, nine straight conference championships? Our task is to see if we can stop the streak.”
Rivers inflated the Patriots’ record championship-game streak just a bit, but who can blame him? It sure feels like eight or nine, the way New England regularly dominates in January and quite often in February at the Super Bowl.
Playing the Patriots has been a Sisyphus-like proposition for Rivers, who has never beaten Brady headto-head. He is 0-7 against the Patriots when Brady plays, and his only career win over New England came after Matt Cassel replaced an injured Brady in the 2008 season. Two of Rivers’ losses to the Patriots came in the playoffs, including the 2007 AFC Championship Game, when the quarterback played despite a torn ACL.
“It’s going to be a heck of a challenge,” Rivers said. “When you have a chance to go against them 11 years after we had that opportunity, yeah, it’s awesome.”
A chance to avenge one of his most painful defeats? Well, yes and no.
“Only one other guy’s on that (Chargers) team is here,” Rivers said, referring to veteran tight end Antonio Gates.
The passage of time has dulled the pain – both emotional and physical – but Rivers very much looks forward to staying alive for at least another week.
“It’s exciting to get another chance,” he said. “Just goes to show, unless you’re the Patriots, it’s hard. For most of us, it’s not that easy to get in and when you get in and now you know you’re one of eight teams, that’s all you ask for is a chance.”
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers’ only win against New England came when Tom Brady didn’t play.
New England and quarterback Tom Brady are trying for the AFC Championship Game for the eighth straight year.