The Chargers are continuing their coaching search while their former quarterback Philip Rivers is getting ready for the 12th playoff game of his career, but for the Indianapolis Colts. He led his new team to an 11-5 season and will face the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.
The Bills are coming off a 13-3 year and winning the AFC East for the first time since 1995. They are playing some of their best football. They have outscored their last three opponents 142-54.
"Like we said on Sunday, everyone's got a shot," Rivers said. "All 14 teams are in got a shot, and we're one of them and looking forward to the first opportunity and challenge against Buffalo."
Rivers knows Bills quarterback Josh Allen all too well, but things have changed since they last faced off. Allen's first career start was against Rivers and the Chargers in 2018. The former Wyoming quarterback threw two interceptions but showed some flashes of what he could be in the future. Rivers' Chargers won the game 31-20.
That is not the same Bills team.
They have grown a lot since then and have found their groove as of late.
"This is a heck of a team we're playing," acknowledged Rivers. "Great deal of respect for this defense and this team in general. It'll be a good challenge."
The Bills defense is one of the best in the league. Rivers has always had that gunslinger mentality even back when he first got started in 2006. He is not scared of throwing it into tight windows.
"We can't go out there and say, 'we're just going to hand it off and be very careful, and we'll win' because we're playing too good of a team that you can't not play free and use the playmakers we have," explained the veteran quarterback.
Rivers has a lot of talent around him. Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor has emerged as a top young back rushing for 1,169 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also will be counting on receivers T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, and Michael Pittman, including tight end Mo Alie-Cox.
When speaking to the Colts media, Rivers was asked what he had learned from his previous 11 playoff games. He began thinking, and you could see the smile on his face as he went through every game in his head.
"We just played sound football," recalled Rivers. "We didn't turn it over. We played the field position game when we needed to. We got a big turnover from our defense. We did all those things scored in a red zone. All the situational things."
Rivers went through his only AFC Championship game where the Chargers faced the undefeated New England Patriots. He explained how they kicked four field goals, and he turned the ball over a couple of times. In all fairness, Rivers did play on a torn ACL and meniscus.
He knows he will have to take some chances.
"We do have to make some plays, obviously," Rivers explained. "But you don't have to do anything unbelievable. Just go play sound football, complimentary football together. We believe if we do that, then it'll be enough."
It will be a tough enough game having to face the Bills, but the weather may not be in the Colts favor. It is supposed to be 27-29 degrees, which may feel even colder, mainly because only 6,000 fans will be in the stands.
"I'm sure we'll do some practice outside this week," said Rivers. "But no, I mean, throwing a long sleeve shirt and go play. That’s about it."
For Rivers, this game means a lot, even if he won't say it. It is another opportunity for him to try to win a Super Bowl. On the flip side, this could be the last time he plays professional football.
Now Rivers has had a great bounce-back season in which he had to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, learning how to mesh with a new team, and a pesky toe injury. He still completed 68 percent of his passes, threw for over 4,000 yards, 24 touchdowns, and only 11 interceptions.
The Colts could bring him back a one-year deal again, but it will also fall on if the veteran quarterback wants to come back or if he wants to begin coaching high school football at St. Michael Catholic High School.
For now, he will enjoy the ride and follow what his baseball cap says, "Nunc Coepi," which it seems like he has had forever. His hat means "now I begin."
"Shoot, it's a new beginning every day and excited for each challenging opportunity," said Rivers.