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Philip Rivers Burns Jaguars with His Feet
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It was hardly graceful, but it sure was effective.
Facing 4th-and-7 on the Jaguars’ 38-yard line, Head Coach Mike McCoy rolled the dice. Jacksonville had just trimmed the Chargers’ lead to 24-19 the series before by converting their own 4th-and-7 for a touchdown, and now the head coach was relying on Philip Rivers’ right arm to move the chains.
Only number 17 didn’t use his arm.
In what he deemed a last resort, the quarterback tucked the ball and went into a dead sprint toward the marker on the right sideline. He dove to gain eight yards as he tumbled out of bounds, ensuring he got just enough for a fresh set of downs. Jumping to his feet, he pointed for a first down while kicking out his left foot in celebration.
“Our speedster got the first down, so it was a great job by him,” McCoy joked after the game.
So what did Rivers see that made him scramble for the sticks rather than let loose a spiral?
“That was the last option,” he admitted. “I was looking left and saw Malcom (Floyd)…if I got my eyes down sooner, I think I had Danny (Woodhead) and let him handle that. But I got to him too late and had already committed to running. I thought it was a great call by (McCoy) going for it there. A field goal didn’t do a ton for you with what the score was. So, that was big. That whole drive was huge. Obviously we’d like to finish the game a little better but that drive there to put us up 12 (was) a big-time drive.”
As Rivers noted, seven plays following his conversion, he found Stevie Johnson in the back of the end zone for his fourth TD pass of the day and a 31-19 lead. The Jaguars made it interesting in the final minutes to make it 31-25, so without that fourth down conversion and subsequent TD, it may have very well been a different outcome in Jacksonville.
Deciding whether to go for it on fourth down can be a tricky decision. There are so many variables that go into whether to punt, kick a field goal or go for it, but McCoy said this one was an easy choice.
“In a situation where we were thinking get to the 35 for the field goal, it was that gray area,” he said. “And I hate to say it, but when you cross that 39, 37, 36, in certain situations out here, it’s a coach’s nightmare because it’s like, ‘Ok, let’s do this and that.’ And then, if Josh (Lambo) puts it through the uprights and we kick it, it’s a great idea. If we don’t, why did we do it? If you punt there, I’m not a big fan of doing that.”
On a day where Rivers set a number of noteworthy milestones with his passing prowess, and in a game where Antonio Gates caught two touchdowns, the tight end said what he’ll most remember was number 17’s gutsy run.
“Obviously, his run was the most special part of the game—that fourth down run. It says a lot about him and his competitive nature, and that’s why he is our leader.”