Charg­ers look to end dom­i­nance by Pa­tri­ots

The Wichita Eagle (Sunday) - - Sports - BY KYLE HIGHTOWER

Tom Brady typ­i­cally shrugs off any men­tion of records or mile­stones he sets.

But even he had to chuckle at the one he and Charg­ers quar­ter­back Philip Rivers will mark when they meet in Sun­day’s di­vi­sional play­offs.

Brady, who will be 41 years and 163 days old, and Rivers, at 37 years and 36 days old, will com­bine to be the old­est pair of quar­ter­backs to face each other in an NFL play­off game, break­ing the mark Brady held with Pey­ton Man­ning.

“Nice,” Brady said of the im­pend­ing foot­note. “Nice and old.”

Sun­day will be just the fourth play­off meet­ing be­tween the teams, with the Pa­tri­ots hold­ing a 2-1 edge.

Rivers en­ters Sun­day with a 1-7 record against the Pa­tri­ots, in­clud­ing 0-4 in games in Foxbor­ough and 0-2 in the play­offs. Rivers earned his lone vic­tory against New Eng­land dur­ing the 2008 reg­u­lar sea­son, when the Charg­ers were still in San Diego. Brady was side­lined for that game by a knee in­jury and Matt Cas­sel started in his place.

Brady is 7-0 as a starter against Rivers.

The Pa­tri­ots (11-5), who cap­tured their 10th straight AFC East ti­tle this sea­son, will be seek­ing their eighth con­sec­u­tive trip to the AFC ti­tle game.

The Charg­ers (13-4) haven’t even been to the con­fer­ence ti­tle game since los­ing 21-12 to the Pa­tri­ots dur­ing the 2007 sea­son.

Rivers played in that game just days re­moved from tear­ing the ACL in his right knee. He limped his way through it while be­ing in­ter­cepted twice and fail­ing to throw a touch­down pass.

It’s be­come the tough­ness brand for a quar­ter­back that hasn’t missed a game since be­com­ing the Charg­ers starter in 2006.

Rivers, who led his team to five wins in its last six reg­u­lar-sea­son games and a road win at Bal­ti­more in the wild-card round last week , said he’s tried to keep past short­com­ings against New Eng­land out of his mind this week.

“It’s not some­thing you think about a whole lot,” he said. “It ex­ists and it’s there but again, and I mean this, I don’t feel that I’m play­ing Tom. Cer­tainly, it’s a Tom Brady-led team and we know how things work with the quar­ter­back and the head coach that have the record at­tached to it. We’ve got a heck of a chal­lenge.”

It will also be a chance to earn a sig­na­ture win for sec­ond-year Charg­ers coach An­thony Lynn, who has steered Los An­ge­les through its re­lo­ca­tion and a sea­son that in­cluded a game in Lon­don.

To have an­other chance at this stage of his ca­reer to notch a play­off win against a New Eng­land team that has been the stan­dard in the con­fer­ence is an op­por­tu­nity not lost on Rivers.

“Fired up to have a shot,” Rivers said.

Here are some things to watch for in Sun­day’s game:

ROAD WAR­RIORS: One thing that gives the Charg­ers con­fi­dence head­ing into Foxbor­ough is their record away from Los An­ge­les this sea­son.

The Charg­ers are fac­ing a Pa­tri­ots team that is 8-0 in Gil­lette Sta­dium this sea­son. But Los An­ge­les is 8-1 on the road , with its lone blem­ish com­ing against the crosstown Los An­ge­les Rams.

“We have a tough foot­ball team, no doubt. I believe that. I think go­ing on the road, it re­ally doesn’t faze this team,” Lynn said.

“We love ball, we like play­ing foot­ball, we like com­pet­ing and we know go­ing into Foxbor­ough, they’re un­de­feated there and they’re tough to beat, pe­riod. It doesn’t mat­ter where you play the Pa­tri­ots; they’re tough to beat.” TOUGH STREAK: In ad­di­tion to earn­ing his first post­sea­son win over New Eng­land, Rivers will also be try­ing to help the Charg­ers end their re­cent strug­gles in the di­vi­sional round.

Each of the Charg­ers’ past three trips to the play­offs have ended in this round — 24-17 to Den­ver in 2013, 17-14 to the New

York Jets in 2009 and

35-24 to Pitts­burgh in

2008.

WEATHER FAC­TOR: The fore­cast for Sun­day in Foxbor­ough is 29 de­grees, which re­cently has been a good thing for the Pa­tri­ots.

They are 13-0 at home since 2011 in games in which the tem­per­a­ture was 32 de­grees or colder.

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