Beating Eli, Giants 'fun' for Chargers' Rivers

San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, left, shakes San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, left, shakes hands with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. (November 8, 2009) Photo Credit: AP

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Think this one didn't mean a little extra to Philip Rivers?

Well, there's his sprint halfway across Giants Stadium after he connected with Vincent Jackson for the winning touchdown with 21 seconds to go as Exhibit A. Exhibit B is Rivers speaking after the Chargers' 21-20 win Sunday, admitting that the atmosphere around his first start against Eli Manning and the Giants meant something more, even five years after the 2004 draft that will always keep Manning and Rivers inextricably linked.

"The draft thing, it didn't weigh into my process going in, but it is there," Rivers said. "Anytime you're playing a team with a quarterback that's won a Super Bowl, that's the caliber of player Eli is, it's fun. Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, it's fun to play against those great players."

And, of course, beat them with a perfectly executed two-minute drill.

Rivers' second interception of the game, a heave with traffic around him that Terrell Thomas brought back to the Chargers' 4 with 3:14 left, seemed to seal the win for the Giants.

"Just a poor throw," Rivers said. "Two things are on your mind there. One, that's going to be the play that cost you the game. And two, if we can just hold them to a field goal, we have a shot."

The Chargers' defense did the latter, with some help from a conservative Giants offense. And Rivers had 2:07, one timeout and 80 yards to make it happen.

"He's probably the most levelheaded quarterback you'll find," Chargers left tackle Marcus McNeill said. "That's what you need in a two-minute drive, a guy who's calm and relaxed."

And Rivers, with some help from an offensive line that hadn't won enough individual matchups to that point, dissected the Giants defense. Rivers was 6-for-8 on the winning drive.

"When you're going against that pass rush and they know you're throwing it every time, that's tough," Rivers said. "But there wasn't anybody near me that whole drive."

The killers were the final two plays, a seam toss to Darren Sproles for 21 yards to the Giants' 18 and the 18-yard touchdown pass to Jackson in the right corner of the end zone to send Rivers off on a celebration sprint.

"Those authentic spazz-outs are the most fun," Rivers said. "This ranks up there, the playoff win in Indy [in 2008] and this one. It is a little special because you know that link's always going to be there."

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