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AFC West

With Philip Rivers, Heartbreak is to be Expected

Philip Rivers. Photo by Nathan Rupert. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

When Philip Rivers was signed to the Indianapolis Colts for a one year, $25 million dollar contract; I had a mix of emotions. As a die-hard Chargers fan, I was sad like many of us who grew up watching Rivers. The gritty, fiery, ultra competitive quarterback out of NC State had a mostly successful career with the Bolts. Sure, he never won a Super Bowl, but the savvy veteran won multiple playoffs games, threw for over 300 touchdowns, and won multiple division titles. For that, I was grateful, but also sad to see him leave. Rivers has been with the team since being traded for Eli Manning in 2004. But the one emotion that stands out the most is heartbreak. And no, I’m not talking about just my own. What I mean is the raw, almost EXPECTED heartbreak that Rivers inevitably has brought to every Chargers team over the years. Confused? Perplexed? Just new to the Philip Rivers saga? I’ll explain below:

Rivers has been known for his consistency, but more notably his turnovers and knack for losing games in improbable fashion. This has been a hallmark trait of all the Chargers teams over Rivers’ tenure there. Playing like a Favre-like riverboat gambler, Rivers likes to fit the football into tight windows. He also has been known to lose games in the most agonizing, almost improbable ways possible. In 2019, nine of the Chargers losses were by 7 points or less.

That is simply unfathomable.

The team simply wins five of those games, and they’re a 10-6 team, not 5-11. The expected Chargers losses have been largely due to Rivers. And according to ESPN, Rivers has lost a combined 63 (!!!!?!!!) one-score games during his time with the Bolts. That is beyond ridiculous. From sealing games with late fumbles like he did in 2011 against the Chiefs to botch a game winning field goal, or throwing demoralizing late game interceptions like he has multiple times in his career, Rivers seems to have a knack for blowing games late. Is it all entirely his fault? Probably not, as the defense has let down the Bolts on numerous occasions (remember the Ray Rice 4th & 29 game in 2012?). But the heartbreak has followed Rivers through a large part of his time in San Diego and Los Angeles.

So, this leads this writer to believe that Rivers simply can’t shake his turnover-prone ways, and most importantly, his penchant for losing close games when expectations are the highest. Rivers has never advanced past the AFC Championship game, albeit for historically good Chargers teams, including the mid-to late 2000s teams that showcased Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson squarely in his prime. And this fact leads this sports writer to believe Rivers will never reach a Super Bowl. It’s his destiny. It’s his trademark calling card. To come up short season after season, Rivers often cranks out great statistical seasons for a quarterback, but just can’t seem to get over the top. At this point, it’s to be assumed this will happen.

Signing with the Colts will prove no different. In fact, I actually even like the signing. Rivers is reunited with former QB coach and offensive coordinator in Frank Reich. A rejuvenated Rivers should easily top 4,000 passing yards and flirt with 30 touchdowns, and even qualify the Colts for a playoff spot. But in your heart of hearts, don’t you just know that it will end in playoff heartbreak? Or worst, even failing to qualify for the playoffs?

For Rivers and the Colts, there is seemingly a newfound optimism in the air. Rivers has talked about how excited he is to be on a new team, and he feels like he can play at a high level.

Unfortunately for him, it will end in heartbreak.

After all, with Philip Rivers, it’s to be expected.

 

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