At 188 consecutive regular-season games, Philip Rivers will now have the longest active quarterback starting streak in the league.
COSTA MESA, Calif. — When the Los Angeles Chargers started the season 0-4, quarterback Philip Rivers appeared headed toward a similar fate as Eli Manning, who was benched by the New York Giants on Tuesday.
However, the Chargers have won five of their past seven games, and Rivers has looked like his old self the past two contests.
Manning had been the NFL’s active leader in consecutive starts at 210. But with the Giants choosing to start Geno Smith on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, Rivers will now take over the league lead, scheduled to start his 188th consecutive regular-season game against the winless Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Two weeks ago, Rivers actually had his consecutive starts streak in jeopardy when he self-reported a concussion. However, Rivers practiced all week and cleared the NFL concussion protocol on Friday, allowing him to start for the Chargers in the 54-24 win against the Buffalo Bills.
Even though he’ll turn 36 years old in two weeks, Rivers has been efficient this season during the Chargers’ second-half surge.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Rivers has thrown 14 touchdowns to just three interceptions in his last seven games — the third-best touchdown-to-interception ratio (4.7) in the league since Week 5 behind Carson Wentz (7.3) and Tom Brady (5.3).
Rivers had more interceptions during the Chargers’ 0-4 start (4) than in this seven-game stretch (3).
“The whole philosophy opened up,” Rivers said. “When you’re trying to establish the run and do those things — which I know are important — sometimes it gets you in a little bit of a ‘grrrrr’ early, and you don’t have that flow.… I feel like the last two weeks, collectively everybody’s pulling in the same direction and pulling the same rope. There’s some newness and we all want what’s best for us, but I just think the approach has been that way, too.
“I don’t think I played cautious early at all. I always want to take care of the ball. But the way we’ve gone after people the last two weeks has allowed for some flow and rhythm.”
For the season, Rivers is seventh in the league in passing yards (2,948) and fifth in touchdowns (20).
The Giants are limping into the end of the season at 2-9, and obviously want to evaluate their roster in anticipation of next year’s draft. While Rivers and the Chargers are only a game back of the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.
So Rivers’ streak lives on, while Manning’s comes to an end on Sunday. The Chargers host the Browns and the Washington Redskins at home in consecutive weeks before hitting the road to face the 6-5 Chiefs.
“Each game is going to be bigger and bigger,” Rivers said. “But we’ve got a chance now with the next two at home to put ourselves at least in the mix. It will be fun in December if we do what we are supposed to do the next few weeks.”