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Rivers, Chargers' offense won't back down vs. Jets' top defense

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers in an undated file

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers in an undated file photo. Credit: AP

Statistically, the Jets have the NFL's No. 1 total defense and No. 1 pass defense. But when San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is pulling the trigger, especially with his deep arsenal of weapons, any defense can get back on its heels.

Just ask the Giants. Rivers and the Chargers marched down the field against them Nov. 8 at Giants Stadium and hit 6-5 receiver Vincent Jackson with the winning TD pass over Corey Webster in the final moments of a 22-21 win.

Rivers expressed respect for the Jets' wild-card playoff win over Cincinnati, but the San Diego quarterback sounded as though he expects to be in attack mode in Sunday's AFC divisional playoff game at Qualcomm Stadium.

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"They'll be as good as any defense we've played," Rivers told the San Diego media yesterday. Correcting the notion that Jets coach Rex Ryan plays the same "46 defense" his father, Buddy, used when he was in Chicago and Philadelphia, Rivers added, "This defense is a multiple-look defense. They line up every way you can possibly line up. But guys still have their gaps [to cover] and the coverage schemes can only be so drastic.

"As an offense, you always want to go out and dictate to the defense, but you've still got to be smart. It's a cat-and-mouse game. We'll put together a plan that fits our personnel, and they'll do the same."

As dangerous as running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles can be, the Chargers were next to last in NFL rushing. But they had the fourth-best passing game with Jackson, 6-5 receiver Malcom Floyd and 6-4 tight end Antonio Gates, a perennial Pro Bowler. The 5-6 Sproles also is a dangerous receiver out of the backfield.

No doubt, Jets Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis will spend most of his time covering Jackson. "He stacks right up there with the best of them," Rivers said of Revis. "For as much press as he plays, he's a very patient corner. When he gets his hands on the ball, he catches it. That's not always the case for those defensive backs."

Coach Norv Turner is equally impressed with Revis. "We played them here last year, and he was outstanding," Turner said. "They do put him on an island, and he handles it extremely well. He's probably more physical than the other guys we've seen, and he still does a great job with the coverage."

That doesn't mean the Chargers are going to just let Revis take Jackson out of their game plan. "You know where they're best and they know where we're at our best," Rivers said. "You're smart with who you attack, but we're pretty confident with the guys we have sideline to sideline that we can go out and execute."

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