Philip Rivers had a fine first half—for the most part—against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. It was an impressive performance considering that he was throwing to receivers with whom he’s had very little recent experience.
He completed 4-of-4 total passes thrown to wideouts Danario Alexander (three catches for 61 yards) and Seyi Ajirotutu (one for 28) on Thursday night in the post-Vincent Jackson era. He was also without starter Robert Meachem due to a hamstring injury.
Rivers’ first incompletion took place with less than a minute to go in the second quarter, when he intentionally let a pass sail out of the back of the end zone because nobody was open. He was 14-of-15 passing the ball for 179 yards and a touchdown right before halftime.
In the Chargers’ final offensive play of the half, Rivers rolled right on a play-action call and tried to hit tight end Dante Rosario in the right corner of the end zone. He was pressured and got picked off by Chiefs safety Eric Berry.
The San Diego passer finished with a 90 percent completion rate (18-of-20 passing) for 220 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Rivers’ success can be attributed in large part to the protection afforded to him by his offensive line. The Chiefs had a hard time with their pass rush and only brought Rivers down once for a sack.
ESPN Stats & Information notes that “Rivers was a perfect 8-for-8 for 135 yards and two touchdowns (to Antonio Gates and [Malcom Floyd]) on throws that traveled at least 11 yards in the air”.
San Diego’s defense did the rest.
After Rivers’ second touchdown pass (a 13-yard connection with Malcom Floyd), the defense took it upon itself to get two more scores for the Chargers in the fourth quarter.
Shaun Phillips recovered a fumble in the end zone, followed by Demorrio Williams’ pick-six that put the Chargers up 31-6. Playing from ahead—as the Chiefs’ opponents are accustomed to doing this season—proved to be beneficial for Rivers and the Chargers.
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