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Philip Rivers to Set Incredibly Rare Individual Accomplishment on Sunday 

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Even those who've followed Philip Rivers' career the closest have long lost count of the notable records and milestones he's amassed during his Hall of Fame career.

On Sunday, Rivers is set to reach a landmark few have noticed creeping up.

However, it ranks among the most impressive of his career.

Most importantly, it's one that clearly means a lot to the quarterback. In fact, it might rank as his most cherished individual milestone when all is said and done.

When Rivers takes the field on Sunday, it'll mark the 200th consecutive start of his career. Only three quarterbacks in NFL history have ever started that many games in a row – Brett Favre (297), Eli Manning (210) and Peyton Manning (208). Rivers will also become only the 10th player in NFL history regardless of position to reach 200 consecutive starts since the league began tracking the stat.

Now, why does this milestone mean more to him than just about any?

It's because when he entered the NFL, it was an achievement he believed would define individual success.

"(Hall of Fame QB Brett) Favre was always a favorite of mine," he said. "Still is. I kind of wanted to have that mark, or at least push for it…I always thought of all the things in the pros, that would be the one (I'd want to beat). I'm not going to get there. So y'all can do the math and figure out your projection of how many years I'm going to play, but I'm not going to get to (297)."

The mark also shows just how tough Rivers has been over his 15-year career. When future football historians look back on his career, this milestone will most accurately reflect his character and the manner in which he played the game.

"It's pretty cool," he continued. "I mean, obviously the two Mannings (Peyton and Eli) and Favre have started over 200 in a row, and I just feel thankful. I think there is a small element of toughness involved, but then again, shoot, lots of prayers for me from many people on Sundays and guys' protection that allow me to be out there each and every week, whether dealing with minor things or big things. Then just that competitiveness to want to be out there and play every week, and I have that same passion in this 200th one that I had in the first one. That's what excites me for the next handful of years."

No one has had a bigger influence on Rivers as a man or a football player than his father. At an early age, he hammered home the importance of longevity as well as trotting out there on the field week in and week out for your teammates.

"As a young boy, my dad always said unless you can't get off the field, you (don't) get off the field. Just those little things. In college, one of the things you heard from (former North Carolina State Head Coach) Chuck Amato was the best ability is dependability. I think just being out there each and every week has always been important. Obviously, you want to be able to be out there and help. It's not just be out there. You want to play at a high level, and that's been up and down over 199, but being out there means something. I shouldn't say that's what I said I wanted to do, but that's one I always thought was so awesome. Seeing that (Favre) had played 300 games in a row, counting the playoffs. (It) was unbelievable. But, obviously chasing a championship for our team has always been number one."

Scott Quessenberry may be a rookie, but he has as much appreciation for Rivers as anyone on the team as a lifelong, die-hard Chargers fan. He grew up mesmerized by what number 17 did on the field. Against all odds, he's somehow more in awe of him now that they share a locker room. Thus, he's uniquely positioned to weigh in on his 200th consecutive start.

"It's pretty awesome to have watched almost all of them, and now I get to be a part of it," he said. "Hopefully we can go out there and get a win. He exceeds any expectation I ever had of him. He's a standup guy, and I love being his teammate."

Geno Smith is another Bolt who puts the 200th straight start into perspective. As a fellow quarterback with starting experience, he knows what it's like to be in the crosshairs every single time the ball is snapped. When asked his thoughts about Rivers' start streak, Smith couldn't help but grin while shaking his head in disbelief.

"That's one of the most impressive stats there is," he said. "And that's at any position. It just shows durability, which is tremendously hard to do. And it's even harder specifically for quarterbacks.  We're limited in our ability to protect ourselves. Everybody is coming at us. There is some luck involved, but mostly it comes from understanding the game. It's really impressive."

It's only natural to reflect back upon one's career when approaching a milestone regarding longevity.

To that end, Rivers immediately recalls his very first start, which came back in 2006.

"Well, (my first start) was in Oakland," he said. "It was the second game of a Monday night doubleheader. I threw 11 times. I was 8-for-11 for 107 yards and a touchdown. We had 10 or 11 sacks on defense, so we didn't need to throw it very often. I remember telling (Antonio) Gates that was the first touchdown of many, and he was frustrated because we only threw 11 (times). You look up later, he has close to 90 (touchdowns between) he and I. That's what stands out."

Rivers also grew sentimental about the milestone, noting how quickly the years roll by.

"It's crazy how time does fly. Everybody says your career, it will be over, (before you know it). Goes just like that, and it really has. There's been a lot to it. There are times where it feels like it's moving slow in certain points of different seasons, but to look back and think of how many guys you've played with and been around, and now that it will be 200 in a row, I'm very thankful to have the opportunity."

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