Shortly before Sunday's kickoff as inactives were announced, Philip Rivers got a text from back home.
It was the wee hours of the morning back in Southern California, and his oldest son had just found out that Melvin Gordon was going to miss the game with a hamstring injury.
So there number 17 was when his phone buzzed with a message his son had to give his father.
It’s not like Rivers ever needs extra motivation, but it clearly pulled at the quarterback’s heartstrings so much that he shared the story with the media following the Bolts’ emotional 20-19 victory.
“My son texted me this morning right before the game and it said, ‘Melvin is out, but y'all are all right. Y'all will figure it out.’ We did. It was good to overcome his absence.”
While the defense stole the show in the final seconds, Rivers did his fair share to give the Chargers just enough points on offense to secure the W.
He did so in resounding fashion, boasting a perfect 153.8 passer rating midway through the third quarter. It remained above 150 heading into the fourth quarter, where he completed five of six attempts for 25 yards, which actually lowered his rating to 137.7 on the day. All in all, Rivers recorded his 92nd career game with a passer rating above 100, including the 46th above 120.
In addition, he completed 19 of 26 attempts (73.1 percent) for 306 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. The performance also marked the 60th 300-yard game of his career while the two TDs gave him 17 on the season, tying his career high for the most through seven games.
Philips also torched Tennessee with a pair of long touchdown strikes, including a 75-yard strike to Tyrell Williams and a 55-yard bomb to Mike Williams. In the process, he became only the third quarterback this season to throw at least two touchdown passes of at least 50 yards, joining Patrick Mahomes and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
“We were efficient in a lot of ways,” he said, summing up the offense’s performance. “We just didn't have a ton of snaps. A couple third downs I would have liked, obviously, for us to convert there to keep the drives going, but you look up in the first half, we had 16 snaps or 15 snaps. How many did we end up with - 45 maybe? I don't know. That's a small number of plays, smaller than we're used to. But having the big plays were huge. Starting the game off the way we did (was big) and we were efficient. It wasn't our best day all the way around (but) was good enough.”
It certainly was.
The name of the game is to score more points than the other, yet it’s rare for games to come down to one single point.
These types of gutsy wins can galvanize a team, which is something Rivers alluded to when talking to the media.
“This was a gritty team win,” he said. “We haven't been in a game like this in a while where it came down to last possession. It was good. It was awesome… I think this team, you can feel it in the locker room how much everybody enjoys (not just) winning, but winning together. That's as excited as I've seen a locker room postgame in a while, just the energy, because it's hard to win in this league and especially hard to win twice when you've been on the road for 10 days.”