Philip Rivers

Philip Rivers

Don’t tell Philip Rivers it just a preseason game. He only knows one way to play. Hard.

Some players play for the money. Some play for fame. So it’s always refreshing to see someone play football because they simply just love to play the game. Philip Rivers just loves to play the game, even if it is just a meaningless preseason game.

For a guy who once played in an AFC Championship Game on practically one leg, after having mid-week surgery on his knee, taking it easy on the field is not an option. Especially, when the opposing team’s safety is about to score a touchdown. In a preseason game, most players would ease up and let the other team score. It is only the preseason after all, right?

That’s not what happened here in San Diego, as the Chargers hosted the Dallas Cowboys for their second preseason game. With about three minutes left in the first half, Cowboys safety Barry Church picked up a Darren Sproles fumble and headed down the sideline for what appeared to be the tying touchdown. Philip Rivers, however, doesn’t like to see the other team score.

Rivers gave chase, eluded Anthony Spencer’s would-be block, and put his shoulder down and made a touchdown saving tackle at the Charger’s eight yard line. It only briefly kept the Cowboys out of the end zone as they scored three plays later, but when asked, Rivers said,

I don’t know how you let a guy score. They’re keeping score.”

Head coach Norv Turner was asked about the tackle and he simply responded,

Would you expect anything else?”

Of course Turner pulled Rivers out of the game after that play. When Rivers was asked if Turner said anything to him about making the tackle in a preseason game, he just smiled and said,

He really didn’t, other than to say you’re done!”

Rivers is a fierce competitor and he hates to lose. He scored the Chargers first touchdown of the game on a quarterback sneak, another risky play for an exhibition game. There were many questions as to why Rivers would risk injury in a meaningless preseason game, but he is setting a healthy example for all players on the team. If the starting quarterback goes all out and plays hard in the preseason, shouldn’t everyone else on the team do the same? Ultimately, Rivers may be trying to send a message to players who were not on the field.

The Chargers played the game without WR Vincent Jackson and T Marcus McNeill who are both holding out for new contracts. If those players were not motivated by the fact that Rivers and the first string offense looked solid without them, then maybe watching their quarterback making tackles in a preseason game might get them back on the field.