Sunday will be the final game of what has been a nightmare season for the Los Angeles Chargers. They will travel to Kansas City to face divisional rival Chiefs in what could be quarterback Philip Rivers' last game with the organization.
The Bolts were coming off a 12-4 campaign and expected to take the next step this season. That hasn’t been the case. Nine out of their 10 losses have come in one-score games. Rivers has not been at his best throwing 18 interceptions, which is tied for second-most in the NFL.
"It's probably human nature when you're 38 and you throw some interceptions in games and they don't go the way you want them to, that it can become, and that's what people say, 'You can't make the throw you used to make' or 'You can't do this' -- arm strength and all of that," Rivers said.
The top sports headlines of the day
There have been questions about Rivers’ decision-making throughout the year. Whether it was a late-game interception against Detroit or having five multi-game interceptions. It has been a rollercoaster season for the NC State alum.
Rivers is 6-7 at Arrowhead Stadium, which he has called one of his favorite places to play.
“It’s just old school NFL,” explained Rivers. “The atmosphere is awesome. It will be cold. It will be raining or snowing. They will be cranked up with a chance to play for that two-seed depending on what happens in New England. We have had some awesome games in there.”
The Bolts quarterback threw four interceptions against the Chiefs in their first meeting on November 18th in Mexico City. The team had a chance to tie the game up and rescue their season late in the game, but it ended when Daniel Sorenson picked off Rivers in the end zone.
Mistakes have cost the Chargers this season.
“You hate to let a year go by,” Rivers said. “There have been too many of those in the last eight, nine, 10 years. It stings a little more. You hate always when you’re not in [the playoffs]. But it certainly hurts more when you’re in the home stretch.”
For 14 years, Rivers has been under center. He led the Chargers through great times, guiding the team to the playoffs for four straight seasons from 2006-2009 and even making it to the AFC Championship in 2007. He has also been their leader through the bad times like missing the playoffs seven of eight years from the end of the Norv Turner era through the Mike McCoy tenure (except in 2013 when they made the playoffs), and into Anthony Lynn’s first season.
“I’ve never been in this position, obviously,” said Rivers. “From a standpoint, I’ve never been 38 in this position. I’ve also never been in the position where I’m having a contract expiring. I don’t know what it’s like to wait around until March and free agency and all that stuff, as far as timeline goes. Again, the dust will settle, and we’ll figure it out.”
It’s true. Rivers has never been in this situation before. He signed his rookie contract in 2004. In 2009 he signed a six-year deal worth $92-million. Then in 2015, he signed what could be his final extension, it was a four-year deal worth $84-million.
Rivers had said all offseason that he was fine playing this season without a new contract. Now you can tell it bothers him to be asked about his future. In the last few weeks whether it was his regular Wednesday podium day or after a game, Rivers continues to be asked if he wants to continue playing.
“Yes, I do want to play football,” is the typical response from the quarterback.
Rivers then explains that he doesn’t want to look towards the future, insisting that he is all about the here and now.
"There's a lot of factors," Rivers said. "There's a personal side and family side to mine. I'm going to have a daughter in college as well, too. So, time is ticking, and I've got a sixth-grade son that I've got to get ready to coach at some point, so there's all kinds of factors. But I know I can still do it.”