Philip Rivers has had a very good career. He went to eight Pro Bowls. He’s in the all-time top 10 for passing yards, touchdowns and passer rating.
And it seems like the one big hole in his resume will never be filled.
The Los Angeles Chargers are 4-6 after a crushing 26-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders, who improved to 5-4. Not that a win on Thursday night would have put the Chargers back in the Super Bowl conversation, but it felt like the loss ended their season.
The Chargers didn’t hold a lead until Austin Ekeler’s touchdown reception from Rivers with less than five minutes remaining, but after that the defense gave up a long drive capped by Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs’ 18-yard touchdown with 1:02 left. When Rivers got the ball back, a defensive penalty on fourth down — there were endless penalties on Thursday night — kept the Chargers’ drive alive. But Rivers threw three more incompletions and then a fourth-down interception to safety Karl Joseph. Rivers’ first seven passes on the final drive hit the ground, and the eighth was picked off.
Rivers, who turns 38 on Dec. 8, has played a role in the Chargers’ disappointing season. He looked old early in Thursday night’s game, and then again at the end. His passes early on were sailing everywhere. Two were picked off by Raiders safety Erik Harris. One was returned for a touchdown. Against one of the worst pass defenses in football, Rivers didn’t pass the 100-yard mark until late in the third quarter.
The Chargers will still have plenty of blue-chip talent next season. Tom Brady, Drew Brees and others have shown that quarterbacks can be successful past their 40th birthday. Still, it seems like the chances of Rivers finally getting to a Super Bowl are drying up fast.
Chargers haven’t gone to Super Bowl with Philip Rivers
The failure of the Chargers to get to a Super Bowl with Rivers isn’t all Rivers’ fault. Having to be in the same conference as the New England Patriots didn’t help, much like being in the Eastern Conference during Michael Jordan’s career. Rivers didn’t ask to leave San Diego to a city in which his team never has a home-field advantage because nobody in Los Angeles cares. That was thanks to a horrendous decision by the Spanos family and NFL. And no one player ever wins or loses a single football game. Rivers wasn’t the one who was letting the Patriots go up and down the field at will in last season’s playoffs. Even on Thursday, his patchwork offensive line was giving up constant pressure.
But that doesn’t matter to most people. If quarterbacks don’t win rings, they’re considered inferior. It’s not fair but it’s not changing. And it looks like Rivers isn’t going to get a ring. With just one ring, he’d probably be a lock for the Hall of Fame.
The Chargers are in a bad place as a franchise. Owner Dean Spanos had to vehemently deny a rumor the team might move to London. That rumor is believable because the team’s situation in Los Angeles is ridiculous. The Chargers are the first team to relocate to a city that didn’t want it. The Chargers moved because Spanos didn’t get his way on public funding for a new stadium. Now the Chargers are going to be a tenant in the Rams’ new stadium, and they’re the only NFL team without an appreciable fan base.
On top of all that, the Chargers’ star quarterback looks like he’s deep into the back nine of his career, with no quarterback of the future on the roster.
Chargers give away another game
Thursday night was another sloppy game for the Chargers. There were too many penalties, though the officiating crew seemed to be getting paid by the flag. The early turnovers were brutal. It was a close game, and the Chargers could have easily won it. They out-played the Raiders in most areas. They just weren’t good enough to overcome all the mistakes. And their quarterback couldn’t carry them over the finish line.
Rivers had a shot at the end, and looked like he had no gas left in the tank. His throws were way off the mark. The interception to Joseph was desperately floated up in the air.
The Chargers will fade away for the rest of this season. It’s unlikely they’ll be relevant again unless they win out. And it looks like another wasted year for their quarterback.
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