By Dave Thomas
While the San Diego Chargers are only 4-3 after seven games, veteran quarterback Philip Rivers is playing like a young guy that sees the sky as the limit.
The 10-year pro from North Carolina State has been the main reason why the Bolts are back in the AFC West race, this after sitting at 1-2 after three games, losses that came against mediocre Houston and Tennessee teams.
Heading into the fourth game of the season versus the NFC East leading Dallas Cowboys, Rivers took the Chargers to a 30-21 victory, a win that included a performance of (35-of-42, 301 yards, three touchdowns). The win got San Diego back to 2-2, allowing it to get out of September with a .500 mark.
Let’s face it—there is no denying that the following week Rivers and the entire team served up a major goose in a 27-17 loss at rival Oakland. While Rivers threw for 411 yards, he also threw up a pair of critical interceptions in the fourth quarter (three altogether). The loss could have very well demoralized the Bolts, but that was not to be the case over the next two weeks.
Getting Back on Track Against the Colts
The first chance after the Oakland debacle for Rivers and Co. to rebound came on a Monday night against the AFC South leading Indianapolis Colts.
In a 19-9 victory over Andrew Luck and the Colts, Rivers (22-of-33, 237 yards, one touchdown) and the Chargers played ball control, avoided any costly turnovers, and stymied Luck and the Indianapolis defense (holding the Colts to three field goals). The win may have very well been the team’s statement win to date.
Less than a week later, the Chargers traveled to lowly Jacksonville to meet an 0-6 Jaguars squad. While most teams would automatically go into such a game and come away with a decisive victory, that has not always been the case for the Bolts in the past. Quite frankly, San Diego has at times in recent years played down to its competition. In doing so, the Bolts have gotten a reputation for not being able to go out and always win the games that they should.
In their match up with the Jags, the Chargers went out and took care of business from the start. In doing so, Rivers was like a surgeon cutting up an inferior opponent.
Rivers (who went pass 30,000 yards career passing in the win) had a very nice 22-of-26 performance for 285 yards and one touchdown. That showing gave him a 125.2 quarterback rating.
Will Rivers Flow Over Final Nine Games?
Through seven games, Rivers has completed 184 passes (249 attempts) for 2,132 yards and 15 touchdowns (versus only five interceptions).
Even better, Rivers has only been sacked 11 times. Given that he went down a record 49 times a season ago, 11 seems really positive at this point of the season.
Although most of the Chargers would admit that 4-3 is not so bad given the inconsistent play this season, there are hopes of breaking a three-year playoff drought this season.
To do that, Rivers will have to lead the charge. Not only is Rivers the emotional leader of the team, but his play will have to go a long way over the next nine games in carrying this team to a playoff spot.
If he can do that, Charger fans may very well have a reason to watch football again come January.
For more Chargers news and updates, visit Chargers Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.