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The last game of the Divisional Round featured the rubber match between two AFC West teams in Denver.
It was Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos who got the victory, holding off a late San Diego comeback to win 24-17.
However, given that it was quite the surprise that the Chargers even made the playoffs, AFC North Lead Writer Andrea Hangst doesn't believe Sunday's loss takes anything away from a bounceback season from San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers:
Now that the San Diego Chargers are eliminated from the postseason, having lost to the Denver Broncos, 24-17, what the Chargers and their quarterback Philip Rivers accomplished this year will start to fade from memory.
Rivers has been far from the center of the public’s eye this season, what with Peyton Manning breaking records, Tom Brady effectively moving the football with a seemingly thrown together receiving corps and Robert Griffin III and the circus surrounding him in in Washington garnering the most attention. But Rivers has been quietly having one of the best seasons of his career.
To say it’s a disappointment for Rivers’ great year to go mostly unnoticed would be an understatement. His completion percentage of 69.5 was his career best. He threw for 4,478 regular-season yards for 32 touchdowns, just two shy of his personal record, and just 11 interceptions. He was sacked only 30 times, compared to 49 in the previous season. And he had five games with over 300 yards passing that also included three with over 400.
Though this postseason hasn’t been the kindest to Rivers, he still handled the Cincinnati Bengals’ brutal defense in the Wild Card round, completing 75 percent of his mere 16 pass attempts for 128 yards, a touchdown and, most importantly, zero turnovers. And while he took a beating at the hands of Denver’s defense, Rivers managed to put forth a strong performance late in the game which threatened the Broncos’ considerable lead.
Down 17-0 at the start of the fourth quarter, Rivers finally was able to get the ball to the Chargers’ most dangerous receiver, Keenan Allen, engineering two touchdown drives and a field goal. Though the offense managed to produce too little, too late, it still speaks to Rivers’ ability to turn his team’s fortunes around this season. He had four fourth-quarter comebacks and four game-winning drives in the 2013 season.
Every season it seems there is someone who has a truly transcendent on-field performance but is trumped by others doing just as or more remarkable things and happens to be a household name, like Manning or Brady. This year, it’s Rivers. Just because he’s no longer in the playoffs doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be recognized as one of 2013’s most impressive quarterbacks.