Of all the unforgettable highlights and big plays from Sunday’s Wild Card win over the Baltimore Ravens, it’s a simple first down signal that will be remembered for years.
But it wasn’t just any celebration.
It was vintage Philip Rivers at his finest, a visceral reaction that embodies everything he stands for as a fan of the game.
After rumbling nine yards for a first down on 3rd-and-8, Rivers popped up, paused for dramatic effect and then emphatically extended his arm to signal first down.
In fact, it was what his wife and children all wanted to talk about as soon as he got home after the game.
“At my house, that was (everyone’s) favorite play of the day, too,” he remarked. “Yeah, the little 15-year-old boy came out in me. It was good. It was the first thing my wife said. ‘I was just so happy to see you having so much fun.’ It was a good day.”
This, more than anything, encapsulates the nature in which number 17 is attacking the postseason. While he’s as focused and determined as ever, Rivers stressed it’s important to stay grounded.
In essence, he simply wants to be himself, and it’s clear from the Ravens game that he’s also as loose as ever.
Yes, these games are as important as they come. But at the end of the day, it’s the same game he’s played since he was a kid. So while the stakes are high, it’s imperative to simply go out there, have fun and let the chips fall where they may.
“If it becomes not fun, then we’re in the wrong deal,” he said. “It is a game. So I think that was important for us last week. Let's not all the sudden say, ‘Hey, we have to play a perfect game this week. This is the playoffs. Let's play a perfect game.’ It was, ‘No, let's just play.’ We're going to miss a throw or miss a tackle. We're not going to play perfect because we haven’t all year, but attention to detail, have fun (and) play how we've always played. That's when we play our best, and see if we can find a way to get it done, and we did.”
The attitude clearly worked a week ago, so expect to see the Bolts attack Sunday’s game in the same manner.
“The challenge is can we do it again,” Rivers continued. “Can we go 1-0 this week? I know that's a boring approach, but that is the one we have to focus on. Because the only game we can win or we even have a chance to win is the one on Sunday.”
While Rivers is loose off the field, he doubled down on his comments from a week ago about having to walk a fine line when it comes to decision making on Sunday.
Basically, number 17 knows he needs to let loose, yet also remain cautious.
“I think there’s a fine line between playing reckless and just saying, ‘Well I’m going to go out there and just sling it all over the place and whatever happens, happens,’” he said. “You can’t do that, but I don’t think you go out there and say, ‘Oh my goodness, I don’t know. I thought he might intercept it so I didn’t throw it and I thought this guy was going to and I thought this,’ and then don’t make any plays. I think not just for the quarterback, it goes for everybody. You just go play. Go play, and to me, you can do that if you prepare the right way. So that’s our challenge, to have a great week of preparation and then you can go play free on Sunday.”
Rivers is a zealot when it comes to that preparation. He spends countless hours watching film and studying tendencies. So, while some may assume extra work goes into this week’s game more than others, that’s simply not true.
Number 17 is attacking this week like any other for the simple fact that he always gives it his all.
“The way I look at it is, if you’re going to try harder this week or prepare harder, then we've been cheating each other (the whole year),” he explained. “We’ve been cheating our teammates the last 17 games. Obviously, I say that seriously and understanding obviously the magnitude of the game, so certainly you don’t leave any stone unturned from a preparation standpoint. But yeah, I’ll try to keep it as normal as possible.”
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