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Sun., Jul. 19, 2015 7:30 AM PDT
Tue., Nov. 24, 2015 10:00 AM PST
A Happy Birthday for Philip Rivers
Three-fourths of the Qualcomm Stadium lights are off for Philip Rivers' return. He pump-fakes a football once or twice, but this time, his receivers are four of his children. This time, the only fans left are a few field maintenance crewmembers.
Even after the game, he's grinning. It was truly a happy birthday for the Chargers' star quarterback.
His stat line against the Giants makes the occasion just a little more festive. Rivers is enjoying his best statistical season in his tenth year. Against the Giants, he notched his fifth game with three touchdown tosses.
Few NFL passers can throw the tight windows Rivers routinely threads.
In the first quarter, Rivers stood strong in the pocket and just waited. Keenan Allen faked an out-breaking route and turned up field. He separated as the ball reached him thanks to a perfect lead by Rivers -- Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas never had a chance as the ball flew over his head and into Allen's hands for a 43-yard score.
In the second quarter, Allen faced press coverage near the goal line. This time, Rivers put just the right amount of air under a pass to render the cornerback useless. Allen had more than enough room in the left back corner of the end
zone to secure the ball, avoid a hit, and drag both cleats in bounds.
His third scoring pass was just as impressive -- he pump faked toward Antonio Gates to free up Danny Woodhead on a six-yard swing pass. But what won't show up on that stat sheet are the little things that Rivers did well on Sunday to hoist his team to a victory.
Only a true student of the game would notice how zealous the Giants defensive line looked last week. Rivers turned their energy against them when he turned to the hard count and made two defenders jump offside.
On one of those penalized plays, Rivers took his shot downfield to Woodhead and connected. His
Rivers laughed about making the improbable throw, but that's what he's made a career out of doing. He saved some of his best work for his birthday -- and stuck around Qualcomm Stadium after to blow out the candles with his kids on the field.