Rivers completed a team-record and NFL-leading 69.5 pct. of his passes (378 of 544) for 4,478 yards (third-highest of his career) with 32 touchdowns (second-most of his career) and just 11 interceptions for a team record-tying passer rating of 105.5. He set a team mark for single-season completions (378) and ended the regular season having thrown a touchdown in 20 straight games, tied for the second-longest streak in team history.
Aside from his impressive yardage totals, where Rivers improved the most in 2013 was in his touchdown-to-interception ratio. The same quarterback who threw 83 touchdowns and 48 interceptions over the last three regular seasons posted nearly a 3-to-1 ratio in 2013 with 32 scoring strikes and just 11 interceptions. It marked his third-career season with at least 30 touchdown passes.
Rivers’ passer rating for the 2013 season (105.5) was nearly 10 points higher than his career rating of 96.0 and his 69.5 completion percentage was more than five percentage points higher than his 64.4 career ledger. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in both categories.
Rivers also enjoyed one of the best postseasons of his career in 2013 as led the Chargers to the divisional round. He continued to complete passes at a blistering rate (69.8 pct.) by going 30 of 43 for 345 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 116.9 passer rating. He also improved his record in Wild Card playoff games to 4-0.
Ranked No. 34 on the NFL Network’s list of the top 100 players heading into 2014, Rivers has 32,369 career passing yards and 221 touchdown passes, and he’ll likely reach the 35,000-yard and 250-touchdown pass thresholds this season. Only 19 quarterbacks in NFL history have reached the 35,000-yard mark and only 15 have thrown at least 250 touchdown passes. One of those, however, is Chargers Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts, who is the franchise-leader with 254 career scoring throws.
Rivers became the Chargers’ starting quarterback in 2006 and has gone 79-49 (.617) in the regular season as the team’s starter. It includes a mark of 45-19 (.703) at home, 34-30 on the road and 34-14 (.708) in AFC West games. He led the team to AFC West titles in each of his first four seasons as the starter and has taken the Bolts to the playoffs five times. Since 2006, Rivers’ 32,221 passing yards are second in the NFL to New Orleans quarterback and former Chargers signal-caller Drew Brees’ 38,733.
Rivers’ knack for strong finishes came to the forefront again in 2013 as he led the Chargers to a record of 4-1 in December, including wins over each of the Bolts’ AFC West rivals, Denver, Kansas City and Oakland. All-time, he is the NFL’s third highest-rated passer in December/January (99.0) with a 71-to-22 touchdown-to-interception ratio, including 10 touchdowns and only three interceptions in 2013, Rivers improved his regular-season record in those months to 33-6 (.846). Rivers also maintained his position as one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks for the second half of the season as his 97.7 passer rating in Weeks 9-16 is second all-time to only Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (105.1). Rivers’ career record as a starter after Nov. 1 is 50-21 (.704).
Rivers is also very close to his brother, Stephen, who is following in his footsteps as a quarterback with future NFL potential. Stephen started his career at LSU, but transferred to Vanderbilt this offseason where he’s expected to compete for a starting job. He’ll have two years of eligibility remaining.
Rivers originally came to the Chargers in 2004 in a blockbuster trade with the New York Giants. Less than an hour after the Bolts selected Manning with the No. 1 pick in the ’04 NFL Draft, Manning was on his way to the Big Apple in exchange for Rivers and a slew of draft picks. Rivers spent the majority of his first two years on the sidelines behind Brees, taking the reigns in 2006. His first campaign was memorable as Rivers was voted to the Pro Bowl after leading the Chargers to a team-record 14 wins, including 10-straight to close out the seasoto close out the season. The Chargers finished undefeated at home for the first time in team history and the ’06 squad scored a team-record 492 points. During the season, Rivers became the first quarterback in NFL history to rally a team from 17-point deficits in consecutive weeks at Cincinnati and Denver. In the midst of those two wins, Rivers led 19-straight scoring drives that ended in touchdowns, a team record and the fifth-longest streak in NFL history. He finished the year as the NFL leader in passer rating during the fourth quarter (116.6) and the third and fourth quarters combined (99.3).
In Rivers’ second season as a starter (2007), he led the Chargersthe to the AFC Championship Game. The Chargers took an eight-game win streak into the title game and Rivers’ toughness, both mental and physical, was put on full display in the final weeks of the regular season and the playoffs. During a December victory at Tennessee, Rivers had to leave the game after spraining his knee in the first half. He returned in the second half and led the Chargers to a come-from-behind victory in overtime. He continued to play and fought through the final month of the season in severe pain. A different knee injury sent him to the sideline during the Bolts’ Divisional Playoff game in Indianapolis and after backup Billy Volek led the Chargers to an improbable win over the Colts, Rivers had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn ACL on Monday and just six days later he started and took every snap on a frigid day in the AFC Championship Game at New England.
In 2008, Rivers threw a team record 34 touchdown passes, tied with Brees for most in the NFL. He recorded his first 4,000-yard season and led the league with a team-record passer rating of 105.5, joining Brees as the only quarterbacks in team history to post a season rating of 100.0 or higher. Rivers posted the NFL’s second-highest passer rating on third downs (110.7) and in the fourth quarter (111.7), throwing an NFL-best 15 touchdown passes on third down while leading the Chargers to an NFL-best 152 points in the fourth quarter. He logged six 300-yard games, the most since Fouts had seven in 1985, including back-to-back games, something not done by a Chargers quarterback since 1991. And Rivers capped off 2008 with a sensational December, leading the Chargers to the playoffs with a 4-0 mark to improve his career record in December to 14-0. He completed 80 of 121 (.661) in Dec. for 1,054 yards, with 11 touchdowns and just one interception. His passer rating for the month, a lofty 120.3, was second in the NFL.
The 2009 season saw Rivers selected to the Chargers’ 50th Anniversary All-Time Team. He threw for 4,254 yards, tossed 28 touchdown passes and posted a rating of 104.4. He was one of only five QBs in ’09 to pass for more than 4,000 yards, throw 25 or more touchdowns and record a season passer rating higher than 100.0. Four times — tied with Brett Favre for most in the NFL — Rivers posted a single-game passer rating of 130.0 or better. During an 11-game win streak to close out the regular season, Rivers completed 69.0% of his passes and posted a rating of 112.0. He threw 21 touchdown passes and only six interceptions and his cumulative passer rating during those 11 weeks was the highest in the NFL. At the conclusion of the 2009 season, Rivers’ fourth as a starter in the NFL, he’d thrown 105 touchdown passes to only 44 interceptions. It marked the NFL’s best-ever touchdown-to-interception ratio by a quarterback in his first four years as a starter.
In 2010, Rivers threw for a career-high and NFL-leading 4,710 yards. It was the 10th-most yards for a single season in NFL history and third-most in team history. He posted a career-high six 300-yard games, including a team-record 455-yard performance in Seattle. The 4,000-yard season was his third-straight, tying Fouts for the most in team history. By the midpoint of the ’10 season, Rivers had thrown for 2,649 yards, an NFL record for the first eight games of a season, breaking yet another mark which Fouts (2,580) had set in 1982. Rivers completed an NFL-leading 66 passes of at least 20 yards, 12 of which went for touchdowns, second-most in the NFL. Rivers ranked second in the NFL in passer rating (101.8), capping a 2008-10 stretch in which he was the only quarterback in the league to post a season passer rating over 100 each season. He joined Steve Young and Peyton Manning as the only passers ever to post a rating of 100.0-or-higher for three straight years. Rivers’ rating was bolstered by a then team single-season record 66.0% completion percentage. And he threw 30 touchdown passes to become the first quarterback in team history with 25 or more in three-straight seasons. It included a team-record stretch of 23 straight games with a touchdown pass, surpassing the previous mark of 20-straight set by Fouts during the 1979-80 seasons. Amidst that streak was a pair of four-TD efforts in consecutive games against Houston and Denver, something that only Fouts (1985) and Brees (2004) had previously done for the Chargers. Eleven different players caught touchdown passes from Rivers in 2010, most in team history for a non-strike season.
In 2011, Rivers completed a team-record 366 passes and threw for 4,624 yards. He joined Dan Marino (1980-81), Warren Moon (1990-91), Manning (2009-10) and Brees (2010-11) as the only players in NFL history with back-to-back 4,500-yard passing seasons. And he joined Manning (1999-04 and 2006-10) and Brees (2006-11) as the only quarterbacks with at least four-straight 4,000-yard seasons. Demonstrating great peripheral vision and field awareness, four players had at least 50 catches for the Chargers in 2011, something that had only been done two other times in team history (1984 and ’05). Late in the season, Rivers assembled a career-long string of 170 passes without an interception, easily surpassing his previous best of 143.
The 2012 season marked perhaps the most trying of Rivers’ career, but it paved the way for his selection as NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2013. Rivers was limited to 3,606 yards passing in ’12, ending a run of four straight 4,000-yard seasons. He threw 26 touchdown passes, but also was intercepted 15 times, tied for the second-most in a season during his career.
Rivers grew up in Decatur, Alabama. His dad, Steve, a former linebacker at Mississippi State, was the head football coach at Decatur High School and Philip was a water boy for the team. Rivers found his passion for the game by watching his dad up close and from backyard games in which the future Chargers signal-caller would mark out a field using chalk and pylons borrowed from the equipment room at Decatur High.
Shortly before Philip was set to enroll at Decatur, Steve took the head coaching job at nearby Athens High School and Philip followed. He played linebacker as a sophomore and moved to quarterback as a junior. After graduation, he enrolled at North Carolina State where he led the Wolfpack to four bowl games and a 34-17 record, including 3-1 in bowl games. A five-time MVP in Bowl games, including the 2004 Senior Bowl, Rivers is still the Wolfpack’s all-time leader for career passing yards (13,484), attempts (1,710), completions (1,087), touchdowns (95), completion percentage (63.6%), and 300 (19) and 400-yard games (seven). His passing yardage total still ranks seventh all-time among Division-I quarterbacks.