Philip Rivers threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns in San Diego's 33-30 win over the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, begging the question if the Chargers quarterback has finally returned to Pro Bowl form. Through two games, Rivers has already accounted for 614 yards passing and seven touchdowns in 2013 compared to the 515 yards and four scores he had a year ago.
Prior to Monday night's loss to the Houston Texans, Rivers hadn't thrown for four touchdowns and just one interception since his 2010 campaign—the same year he finished with 30 TD passes and 13 INTs.
Despite his interception returned for a touchdown against the Texans, Rivers put up a show-stopping first half with his three touchdown passes and zero mistakes—something we hadn't seen from him in the past two seasons.
The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback racked up 47 turnovers the past two seasons and finished with a career-high seven fumbles lost in 2012. Last season was one of the worst to date for Rivers, but he has looked like the player of old under new head coach Mike McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.
One of the most notable differences for this Chargers team under McCoy has been the increased emphasis on the ground game to complement the pass. With a healthy Ryan Mathews at his disposal, Rivers has managed to keep defenses honest in their respective schemes, which in turn has allowed him to capitalize off one-on-one matchups and zone coverage.
Most surprising of all is the fact that he has accomplished all this even with a lacking receiving unit. Danario Alexander, who led the team in receiving in 2012, was lost for the season after his ACL tear in training camp, but Rivers has managed to distribute the ball evenly and work with what he's got.
Eddie Royal, who finished with just one touchdown last season, has five through Week 2. Young receivers like Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen have gotten in on the action as well, combining for eight catches and 74 yards receiving.
The key to a Pro Bowl year for Rivers will rest in the hands of his offensive line, which has allowed just three sacks. The O-line struggled to give Rivers time in 2012 as he was sacked 49 times—second-most in the NFL. San Diego rebuilt its line through free agency and the draft in hopes that Rivers could bounce back, and that appears to be the case so far this season.
Looking ahead to the rest of the team's schedule, the defensive matchups bode well for Rivers in his quest for a fifth Pro Bowl selection, but we'll see how he holds up over the course of the year.
In the past, Rivers has been known to make bad and costly decisions late in games. In the win over Philadelphia Sunday, Rivers was able to drive his team down the field in the final minutes to set up the game-winning field goal by Nick Novak. He also did not throw an interception or fumble a snap.
Now in his 10th year in the league, if Rivers can get time to throw the ball and limit the mental errors, he should have a drastically improved 2013.
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