One of the most prolific quarterbacks in NFL history has called it a career: Philip Rivers announced his retirement on Wednesday after having spent the last 17 seasons leading first the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers and most recently the Indianapolis Colts. Along his journey, Rivers earned eight Pro Bowl selections and appeared in 244 regular season games as well as 12 playoff contests.
Nine of those games came with the New England Patriots on the other sideline, and while they were not necessarily friendly to him let’s still take a look back in Rivers’ honor.
1.) 2006 AFC divisional playoffs
Final score: 24-21 Patriots
Rivers’ stats: 14-for-32, 230 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
In his first season as the Chargers’ starting quarterback, Rivers and his team hosted the Patriots after earning the number one seed in the AFC during the regular season. The game was a close one throughout the contest, and was not decided until the fourth period. The pivotal play: a Tom Brady interception on fourth down was fumbled away by San Diego defensive back Marlon McCree. New England scored the game-tying touchdown a few plays later, went up on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal on the next possession, and eventually won when Nate Kaeding came up short on a 54-yard kick to end the game.
2.) 2007 regular season: Week 2
Final score: 38-14 Patriots
Rivers’ stats: 19-for-30, 179 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
With the “Spygate” scandal hanging over the Patriots’ heads, the team steamrolled the Chargers in Week 2 of the 2007 regular season. With Tom Brady throwing a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter and Adalius Thomas registering a 65-yard pick-six in the second, New England jumped to a 24-0 lead at the half. The team never looked back, even as San Diego found the end zone twice after intermission.
3.) 2007 AFC Championship Game
Final score: 21-12 Patriots
Rivers’ stats: 19-for-37, 211 yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs
Just six days after tearing his ACL and meniscus, Rivers led the Chargers onto the Gillette Stadium turf with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. The lone AFC Championship appearance of his 17-year career, however, would end in disappointment. Despite San Diego keeping the game close against an undefeated Patriots team that did not have its best day on offense, New England’s defense made enough stops to allow the team to pull away in the fourth quarter and punch its ticket to Super Bowl 42.
4.) 2008 regular season: Week 6
Final score: 30-10 Chargers
Rivers’ stats: 18-for-27, 306 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT
Fourth time was the charm for Rivers against the Patriots. With the visitors missing Tom Brady — the reigning league MVP had torn his ACL in Week 1 — and struggling to find a rhythm on either side of the ball, the Chargers controlled the contest from start to finish. Rivers had one of the best performances of his storied career, and ended up throwing touchdowns to three different receivers.
5.) 2010 regular season: Week 7
Final score: 23-20 Patriots
Rivers’ stats: 34-for-50, 336 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Even though Tom Brady was back in the lineup for Rivers’ next meeting with the Patriots, the game between the two star quarterbacks and their teams was a close one — at least at the end. New England jumped to a 23-6 lead in the early fourth quarter, but two straight Chargers touchdowns and a fourth down stop put the team in a position to tie the game on the final drive. However, Kris Brown’s game-tying 50-yard field goal hit the right upright to preserve the Patriots’ victory.
6.) 2011 regular season: Week 2
Final score: 35-21 Patriots
Rivers’ stats: 29-for-40, 378 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
With Tom Brady and company playing some impressive offensive football, and with the team’s defense registering four takeaways — including two Rivers interceptions — and a turnover on downs, the Patriots were able to keep the Chargers at bay throughout their Week 2 meeting in 2011. Despite the home team winning by two touchdowns, however, game itself was a classic shootout: the two teams combined to gain 974 yards of offense.
7.) 2014 regular season: Week 14
Final score: 23-14 Patriots
Rivers’ stats: 20-for-33, 189 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
The eventual Super Bowl champions traveled to San Diego for a highly contested prime time matchup. Neither team was able to get into much of a rhythm on offense through the first three quarters, but a 69-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Julian Edelman eventually helped put the contest out of reach from the Chargers’ perspective. As opposed to the 2011 meeting above, this one was a defensive affair: the teams combined for 12 punts — one of which blocked by the Patriots — as well as three turnovers.
8.) 2017 regular season: Week 8
Final score: 21-13 Patriots
Rivers’ stats: 17-for-30, 212 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Even though the Chargers, who now called Los Angeles their home, ended up scoring more touchdowns than the Patriots in this regular season game between the two teams — including an 87-yard scamper by Melvin Gordon — New England once again came away victoriously. Four Stephen Gostkowski field goals, a safety on special teams, and a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski did the trick for the home team. Philip Rivers had another up-and-down performance before throwing an interception on a final Hail Mary attempt.
9.) 2018 AFC divisional playoffs
Final score: 41-28 Patriots
Rivers’ stats: 25-for-51, 331 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
The final meeting between Rivers and the Patriots came in the 2018 playoffs. While he had one of his better statistical performances against New England that day, the Chargers did not stand a chance: unable to stop the Patriots’ power running game and efficient passing attack, the team fell behind 35-7 at the half and were unable to get back into the contest. For the eighth time in nine attempts, Rivers therefore came up short against his long-time nemesis, while the Patriots embarked on another journey to the Super Bowl.