A season ago, San Diego’s Philip Rivers set a record. That record, however, was one the veteran quarterback would like to erase.
With a career-high 20 interceptions, Rivers watched the playoffs from home for the second straight season as the Chargers made their way to an 8-8 record.
For Rivers in 2012, the goal is playing past the regular season finale of Dec. 30 with the same team they open up the year with, the rival Oakland Raiders. If that does not occur, then both head coach Norv Turner and general manager AJ Smith may be polishing up their resumes, as one or both could be taking the exit door out of San Diego.
While no one expects Rivers’ head to be on the line this season, there is little doubt that the team’s fiery leader will put a ton of pressure on himself to improve upon last season’s results. Whether it was an injury no one ever admitted, a matter of forcing the ball too many times, or just not having the right receivers in his sights, Rivers frequently could not get the job done a year ago.
As a new season kicks off this Monday evening in Oakland, Rivers is looking to erase the memories of 2011 and forge new ones in 2012.
After a run of four years straight as AFC West champions, the Chargers handed the baton to the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos respectively the last two seasons. There is little doubt that the Chargers, their management and their fans would like to retake the top spot this fall.
In order to do just that, the Chargers will need number 17 to make his way through the season free of injuries. With longtime backup Billy Volek gone, the duties fall to Charlie Whitehurst should Rivers go down.
Rivers will also need to work without his top receiver of the last several years, as Vincent Jackson departed for the riches of Tampa Bay in the off-season. Time will tell if Rivers is able to identify a new favorite target such as Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal or Vincent Brown (currently mending a broken ankle).
Despite throwing for more than 4,000 yards last season, Rivers was one of the reasons San Diego fell short of recapturing supremacy in the division. An overtime loss on Halloween night in Kansas City, a game where Rivers fumbled away what would likely have been a win, still haunts some Chargers fans. Driving for a game-winning field goal, Rivers turned the ball over at the Kansas City 15, less than two minutes remaining in the game. The Chiefs would then go on to move the ball into field goal range and tally a 23-20 win in overtime.
Instead of booting a field goal for the win and a 5-2 record, the Chargers kicked off what would soon be an 0-4 mark for the month of November, dropping games to Green Bay, Oakland, Chicago and Denver.
While the past is the past, Rivers and Co. are hoping 2012 has a better flow to it than 2011 did.
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Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.