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SUNDAY NIGHT spotlight He doesn't go by the board

October 04, 2009|Sam Farmer

Forget that stuff about the pen and the sword. In the case of San Diego's Philip Rivers, the arm is mightier than the magic marker.

That's how it feels for the Chargers quarterback, at least, when he zips one of those sizzling passes to his big receivers, no matter the scheme drawn up by the opposing defensive coordinator.

"Certainly I'm not ignoring the coverage over there, and we go through our progressions the same as we have always," Rivers said. "But there comes a time when it's that me-to-you factor, and you feel like your guys can make a play regardless of what the blackboard tells you."

More often than not, Rivers makes those plays. Over the last three seasons, his Chargers have transformed from a running team that leaned heavily on LaDainian Tomlinson into an offense featuring one of the NFL's premier passing attacks.

Rivers, whose team plays at Pittsburgh tonight, has thrown for 739 yards in the last two games, the most in a two-game stretch by a Chargers quarterback since Dan Fouts threw for 784 yards over consecutive games in 1985.

The Chargers have quite a challenge, facing the Steelers for the third time in a year. Pittsburgh beat them, 11-10, in Week 11 last fall, and again, 35-24, in a divisional playoff game. The Steelers have won all 13 regular-season home games against the Chargers.

Rivers, who has helped the Chargers to three consecutive AFC West titles, has beenoutstanding this season (330.3 passing yards per game). And his team is going to need his best effort, especially with Tomlinson coming off an ankle injury and facing a Steelers defense that shut down Darren Sproles in the playoff game.

"Having Philip and having him progress the way he has, it has mattered a great deal to this team," Chargers Coach Norv Turner said. "Under the circumstances, with the guys on the offensive line and L.T., and not getting the production out of the run, it has been much more critical."

-- Sam Farmer

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