The San Diego Chargers made the AFC Championship in the 2007 NFL season after defeating Peyton Manning and the Colts, an appearance that can be accredited to only one man. No, not LaDainian Tomlinson; not Philip Rivers; not even a starter, in fact.
LT left in the first half with a bruised knee and the Chargers' star running back would not return.
In the third quarter, starter Philip Rivers dumped a pass off to Darren Sproles. As all eyes followed Sproles scurrying down the sideline and into the end zone, Rivers began awkwardly hopping on one leg, still standing where he'd thrown the pass.
He'd torn his ACL—out for the game.
The fourth quarter started with a three-and-out for the Bolts, followed by a quick Colts touchdown, giving Indianapolis a three-point lead with 10 minutes remaining.
And with 10:02 left on the clock, backup quarterback Billy Volek lined up under center. With only three passing plays in the drive, accompanied by solid running from Michael Turner, Volek drove the Chargers down the field and up to the goal line for a 2nd-and-goal attempt only a yard out, with 4:54 remaining.
On the very next play, Norv Turner called the basic goal line play—the QB sneak—and Volek ran straight into the defensive line.
Moments later, he broke through, landing in the end zone.
In doing so, he made history. The backup quarterback led the game-winning drive in a playoff game, a feat that no other active quarterback has done from the second slot on the roster. Volek also has the highest career passer rating (84.6) of any reserve in the NFL.
Tim Tebow may get the nod as the most widely-hyped backup quarterback in the history of the sport, but he isn't even the best of the backups in the AFC West alone. Billy Volek steals the crown, after his consistent statistics and one moment of glory.
While he'll never beat out Rivers for the starting job, every fan can appreciate his preseason performances as well as his appearances in blowout victories. And no Charger fan has forgotten about his heroics against Indy only four years ago. It's also a great consolation to know that, should the starter fall again, Billy Volek knows exactly how to make an impact as a backup.
After all, he's the best in the NFL.