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Confident in Rivers
SAN DIEGO – The first three games of the season haven’t been the best of Philip Rivers’ career.
He hasn’t thrown his sixth interception until Week 7 or 8 the last three years and never has thrown two picks in three consecutive games. Turnovers have rotted several promising drives.
But there’s plenty on the positive side of the ledger for Rivers, beginning with two home wins. No. 17 also is fourth in the NFL with 979 passing yards and leads the league in fourth-quarter passer rating. Rivers has completed 25 of 30 passes in the final quarter for three touchdowns and no interceptions, averaging 8.7 yards per attempt. The Chargers also have converted 24 third downs, one behind New Orleans for best in the league. Many of those have been Rivers completions.
“We’ve got to eliminate the interceptions and we’re going to,” Head Coach Norv Turner said while emphasizing Rivers’ stellar fourth-quarter play and calling turnovers a team issue. “If we’re going to turn the ball over, we have to make them force it. Teams are going to create turnovers at times, but we’ve got to eliminate the ones that they’re not forcing.”
Yards don’t mean much if drives don’t finish in the end zone, though, a fact Rivers knows well. He alluded to the fact that NFL quarterbacks are 2-4 when throwing for more than 400 yards this season. Rivers, however, is 36-10 at Qualcomm Stadium as a starting quarterback.
“Fewest turnovers and protecting the ball still outweighs yards in terms of wins and losses,” Rivers said. “We’ve got to make sure the ball is in our hands at the end of a play, whether it be a pass, a run or a catch.
“I don’t want to keep going at this rate for the next 13. That would be ugly. But we’ll get on a roll here and not throw many (interceptions). The biggest thing is we’re 2-1 with a chance to get a third win this week. I think that’s where everybody’s focusing.”
WELL-VERSED: Randy McMichael is a football player.
Duh. He wears No. 81, is listed on the roster and has appeared in every game for San Diego at tight end since the start of the 2010 season.
Less-recognized are all the ways he’s contributed to the Chargers.
In seven games without Antonio Gates, McMichael has a remarkable 85-percent catch rate (17 receptions on 20 targets) and 190 receiving yards. He also plays special teams, making three tackles last season, and often helps protect Rivers’ blindside when the play calls for extra protection.
“He’s a big-time tight end in this league. He was everywhere he’s been,” Rivers said. “(He’ll ask), ‘What do you need me to do this week?’ And he’s ready to do it. If it’s to be the feature tight end and catch balls, he’s ready to do that. If it’s not catching a pass and being the backside guy on some of the blocking and play-action stuff, he does that as good as anybody.”
Said Turner: “I can’t say enough about (McMichael) and what he brings to us because he does so much in our pass protection. And then he catches four passes and he’s big on third down.”