Chargers hope to end free-fall Monday night vs Bears
He really is. It's his nature.
There also comes a point where reality sets in. It sounds like Rivers - who's playing the best football of his career - is almost there.
A four-game losing streak has dropped the Chargers to 2-6 and Rivers has lost his top receiver, Keenan Allen, for the rest of the season with a lacerated kidney.
Now comes a Monday night game against the equally woeful Chicago Bears (2-5).
''I think you have to really, right now, just get excited about playing the Chicago Bears on `Monday Night Football' and really think about nothing else than that,'' Rivers said.
''I've always said to the guys, if you told any of us when we were 10 years old, hey, you were going to play the Chicago Bears on `Monday Night Football,' none of our first response would have been, `What's our record going to be?' We just would have been fired up to be a part of it. So I think that's the best approach at this point.''
That's what it's come to.
The Chargers are closer to the No. 1 draft pick than they are to the AFC West lead. The running game is going nowhere and the pass rush is stagnant.
The L.A. thing continues to hang over their heads, too, even though they keep saying that team chairman Dean Spanos' desire to move 120 miles up the freeway as early as next season is not a distraction.
Rivers is on pace to rewrite San Diego's season passing records, thanks to a five-game stretch in which he's thrown for 1,863 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Playing the rebuilding Bears could make things better. Chicago lost star running back Matt Forte and wide receiver Eddie Royal - who was with San Diego the last three years - to knee injuries in a loss to Minnesota last weekend.
Here are some things to look for when the Chargers host the Bears:
NO HARD FEELINGS: Rivers and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler say there are no lingering issues from a trash-talking episode on Christmas Eve 2007, when the Chargers routed Cutler's Denver Broncos. Rivers and then-Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips were seen jaw-jacking Cutler from the sideline.
''Shoot, I have no issues with Jay at all,'' Rivers said. ''There will be a normal handshake, just like with all the other quarterbacks. There are really no hard feelings there whatsoever. There weren't really any even that night, or after. Obviously the hype that ensued kind of built it up. ... But you look back and go, `That's crazy what was made of it.' In hindsight you wish it probably never happened, but it was certainly not the big deal that it turned into.''
Said Cutler: ''It was Christmas Eve and we were both battling for a playoff spot. ... It was just one of those things that stuck in people's minds. ... Over the years, I've gained a lot of respect for his game and the way that he plays. He's been a staple in the league for a long time and has put up huge numbers year in and year out. He's always fun to watch, always fun to play against.''
HOME-FIELD BLUES: This could be the third straight home game in which the visiting team has had a significant cheering section. Tens of thousands of Steelers fans cheered Pittsburgh on to a last-second win on Oct. 12, and the usual horde of Raiders fans did the same on Oct. 25.
Are the Chargers ready for more of the same?
''Yeah. Yep. Certainly,'' Rivers said. ''You appreciate the fans of ours. They're there. It's not their fault. I've always understood, even going years back, certain teams have bigger followings and if you had to pick a road game to go, San Diego would probably be the one I'd pick.''
Rivers said it's ''probably little shocking'' to younger players used to supportive home crowds in college. ''We've got to already have that in our head and not let that be a factor.''
RUNNING ON EMPTY: Chargers running back Melvin Gordon, a first-round pick described by general manager Tom Telesco on draft day as ''a home-run hitter,'' has yet to score a touchdown or have a 100-yard game. By comparison, LaDainian Tomlinson had eight touchdowns and three 100-yard games through his first eight games as a rookie in 2001.
BEARS BACKS: Chicago star Forte is out with a knee injury. Forte has mostly been a model of durability in his eight seasons. But now that he is unavailable, a bigger load falls to rookie Jeremy Langford.
''I feel comfortable,'' Langford said. ''I've been doing a great job of preparing like I was the starter but still having that mindset that if anything happens I can go in there and not lose any slack or call out different plays because I'm in there.''
COACHES CORNER: Bears first-year coach John Fox was boss of Chargers coach Mike McCoy at Carolina and Denver. Fox is 8-3 against the Chargers overall, including 4-1 against McCoy since he took over the Chargers. That includes Denver's playoff win against San Diego during the 2013 season.
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