By Dave Thomas
To a man on the San Diego Chargers, there is only one real leader on the field. Yes, Mike McCoy is the head coach, but most folks know number 17 is the unofficial leader for the Chargers.
During last Sunday’s AFC West battle with division rival Kansas City, Rivers would simply not let his team fold. Down 14-3 early in the contest, it would have been easy for the Bolts to pack it in and settle for a 4-7 record. Honestly, did you think quarterback Philip Rivers would let that happen?
When the Chargers ended up with Rivers a decade ago following the nasty Eli Manning divorce, many Bolt fans probably thought that this young man from North Carolina State would be an okay quarterback, but certainly nowhere near the talent level of revered Dan Fouts or the heart and guts of one Stan Humphries. Playing for the Chargers all these years since Drew Brees headed off to New Orleans, Rivers has proven many of his critics wrong.
Manning Has the Rings
With that in mind, do you ever stop to wonder if Chargers management and their fans regret not having landed Manning after drafting him out of Ole Miss?
Before the naysayers point out that Manning has two Super Bowl rings and Rivers zero, keep in mind a sizable number of folks will tell you that Manning and Co. won two very close meetings with New England (17-14 and 21-17). Yes, Manning came up with some big plays in both games (not to mention the playoff games leading to the two championships), but it wasn’t like the Giants dominated either Super Bowl appearance. That said, Manning got the job done at the end of the day both times, case closed.
It is useless to say how Rivers would have done if the Chargers were the AFC representative in one or both games under his leadership, but you can’t help but wonder what one or both scenarios would have looked like.
Heading into the 2013 season, both Rivers and Manning were looking for rebound years for their respective teams.
After capturing the Super Bowl two seasons ago, the Giants were a shell of themselves last season, even failing to qualify for the post-season. Meantime, Rivers and the Chargers have sat home the last three post-seasons, hoping that a new head coach and new general manager would make the difference this time around.
Which QB Will Lead Their Team to the Playoffs?
Going into their respective games with Washington and Cincinnati this weekend, both Manning, 32, and Rivers, 31, need to have their teams run the table through December to have a shot at clinching a wild card berth. New York has won four of its last five games, while San Diego looks for its second straight victory this Sunday at home versus the AFC North leading Bengals.
Coming into Sunday night’s game versus the Redskins, Manning has thrown for 2,760 yards and 14 touchdowns (QB rating of 72.5), while Rivers has piled up 3,381 yards passing and 22 TDs (QB rating of 106.6).
When you look at their respective career numbers, Manning has 34,287 yards passing, 225 touchdowns and 161 interceptions. Meanwhile, Rivers has accumulated 31,272 yards passing, 211 TD’s and 101 interceptions. Again, other than Manning having the two rings, these two members of the 2004 NFL Draft have put up comparable statistics.
So, as their respective teams fight on these last five weeks of the regular season, which quarterback would you trust to get their team into the playoffs?
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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.