Ranking Philip Rivers' 10 Most Memorable Moments as a San Diego Charger
Philip Rivers has had an enigmatic career as a San Diego Charger. When trying to deduce his success with the franchise, one will come across numerous highs and lows for the 10-year veteran.
Whether it's a historic regular-season comeback against the Cincinnati Bengals, or one of the toughest playoff performances of all-time against the undefeated 2007 New England Patriots, Rivers has given San Diego some of the most memorable moments in team history.
This top-10 list will rank those moments based on the impact said moment had on the Chargers organization and Rivers' career. Playoff games will take precedence over regular-season contests unless their was a comeback so historically momentous that it had to supersede a playoff moment. Historical significance will give certain moments an edge over others in terms of victories.
Voted Comeback Player of the Year
After a two-year dip in his productivity and efficiency, Rivers returned to form last season. He threw the second-most touchdowns in his career, 32, and via ESPN.com, he raised his QBR from a career-low 41.5 to 71.7, his second-highest rating. He also led the team back to the postseason after three consecutive seasons of falling short.
For resurrecting his career, Rivers was named the Comeback Player of the Year by The Associated Press.
While this may seem like it should be higher, the fact is that Rivers earned this award due to his uncharacteristically poor performances the previous two seasons. It is a nice recognition for Rivers, but I'm sure it's not something he ever wants to win again.
Best Regular-Season Record
The final honorable mention is not exactly a singular moment. Rather, it is a season record that Rivers led the team to. In his first year as the starting quarterback, Rivers replaced Drew Brees and led the team to its best regular season in franchise history. The team finished the regular season with a 14-2 record and first place in the AFC.
Unfortunately, San Diego was defeated by the New England Patriots at home in the second round of the playoffs. Charger fans will always recall Marlon McCree's interception and impending fumble.
These two mentions were not singular moments, so they're listed as honorable mentions.
10. Trash-Talking Jay Cutler on Monday Night Football
Our first memorable moment came on a Monday night in 2007 between the Chargers and their division rival Denver Broncos. The two teams were on opposite ends of the spectrum as the Bolts were closing in on their second straight division title and the Broncos were staring down another losing season.
Late in the fourth quarter, after the two teams had been yelling and shouting at one another all night, the San Diego defense began jawing with Jay Cutler after he failed to convert on a fourth-down play. Out of nowhere, Rivers joins the party and begins shouting at Cutler, along with Shaun Phillips and Matt Wilhelm.
This moment was the proverbial icing on the cake for the notion that Rivers was one of the few quarterbacks in the league who talked trash in front of the cameras. He solidified himself as a figure who drew the ire of opposing teams due to what many may deem unsportsmanlike behavior.
Rivers has always had a tough time teetering on the fine line between fiery competitor and sideshow. This moment encapsulates that notion.
9. First NFL Start
Despite only throwing 11 times and accumulating 108 yards, the Chargers demolished the Raiders 27-0. Rivers had an outstanding 133.9 quarterback rating.
Rivers solidified himself as the quarterback of the future after defeating the rivals from Oakland. Chargers fans immediately began to trust the young quarterback to lead their powerful team throughout the year and beyond.
8. 2006 Comeback vs. Seattle Seahawks
In a rainy game against the Seattle Seahawks, Rivers came up big when it mattered most. With his team down four with under a minute left, the first-year starter drove the team down the field and capped it off with a 37-yeard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson with 29 seconds left.
The Chargers went on to win their ninth consecutive game and set a team record for victories in a season. As Rivers mentioned to The Associated Press, via USA Today, winning was all that mattered:
"I am not denying that I haven't played my best football ... but I think that the key stat is obviously we have won nine in a row."
This was Rivers' second-best comeback of his young career. He was already beginning to make a name for himself as the young gun who can never be counted out of a game.
7. 2013 Comeback vs. Kansas City Chiefs
In the midst of a three-game losing streak, the Chargers traveled to Arrowhead Stadium in Week 12 of the season and battled the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs. Needing a victory to retain the slightest opportunity of making the postseason, Rivers led his team down the field, trailing by four points.
As the clip above shows, Rivers hit Seyi Ajirotutu for the game-winning touchdown with pinpoint accuracy.
This moment will be remembered for being a catalyst to the 2013 season turnaround for the Chargers. Facing yet another mediocre season finish, it was the veteran quarterback who changed the team's fortunes and led them to a season-changing victory.
The 2006 comeback versus the Seahawks was not as significant because the Chargers were already in good shape at that point in their season. If they were to lose this game, their season would most likely have been over.
6. 2008 Wild-Card Victory vs. Indianapolis Colts
2008 was a tumultuous season for the Chargers, to say the least. After the infamous Ed Hochuli ruling against the Broncos that stole a victory from San Diego, the team struggled all season. Luckily, they squeezed into the playoffs with an 8-8 record, thanks to their weak division.
Facing Peyton Manning in the postseason yet again, Rivers marched his team down the field twice. Once to set up a Nate Kaeding game-tying field goal that sent the game into overtime. The other led to the incredible Darren Sproles walk-off touchdown.
A comeback in the regular season is awesome. When it happens in the playoffs it's legendary.
5. Bolo-Tie Bonanza
2013 Rivers will always be remembered for one thing: his bolo tie.
Rivers is from Alabama, but he insists that it's backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst who convinces him to wear the outlandish tie, as well as the rattleskin boots. Regardless, Rivers garnered national attention for something other than his fiery on-field antics: his wardrobe.
Even if he never wears it again, when it comes to the national fanbase, Rivers will always be synonymous with the bolo tie. And unlike our No. 10 moment, this is not something that will be seen as a stain on his resume. At least not by football standards.
4. 2007 Wild Card vs. Tennessee Titans
Thirteen years without a playoff victory is quite a drought. The Chargers ended that streak in their 2007 Wild Card Game against the Tennessee Titans.
Against a tough, physical Titans team, Rivers was an efficient 19-of-30 with 292 yards and one touchdown.
This was the young quarterback's first playoff victory, and it would not be his last that year. Ending the franchise drought makes this moment more significant than the previous moments.
3. 2009 Comeback vs. Eli Manning and New York Giants
It's been well documented that Charger fans do not like Eli Manning after he refused to play for the team with the No. 1 selection in the 2004 NFL draft.
As Kevin Acee of the U-T San Diego notes, "Please remember that Eli Manning did us wrong. Not showing him you remember and are still mad would also be wrong."
So, when the Chargers traveled to New York to face the Giants, Rivers made sure to get one over for his city. As the clip shows, with San Diego down six and less than 30 seconds on the clock, Rivers connected with Vincent Jackson for an 18-yard game-winning touchdown.
Because the careers of Rivers and Manning will always be intertwined, this win holds more significance than any other comebacks. Except one.
2. 2007 AFC Championship on Torn ACL
In the previous week, Rivers partially tore his ACL against the Colts in the divisional round of the playoffs. With the undefeated Patriots standing in their way of a Super Bowl berth, Rivers threw caution to the wind and played the game with the torn ligament in his knee.
His performance ranked eighth on the NFL's top-10 gutsiest performance list.
Even though his team lost, Rivers silenced all his doubters with a performance we may never see again. Before this game, the first thing people remembered about Rivers was his trash-talking.
After this performance, he will always be remembered for one of the toughest outings a quarterback will ever have.
1. 2006 Comeback vs. Cincinnati Bengals
In his ninth career start, Rivers matched the Chargers' comeback record of 21 points.
With Cincinnati leading 28-7 at halftime, Rivers led the team to a 49-41 win. Watching the game live was unbelievable. Nobody would have guessed the rookie quarterback could pull off a comeback of that magnitude.
This game, in my opinion, will go down as the best performance by Rivers as a Charger. Considering the fact that he was only a rookie, this comeback shaped the type of career Rivers would have.
You can never count out No. 17.