The numbers are in black and white: Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has never defeated the Patriots with Tom Brady upright and in action. The veteran L.A. quarterback’s lone win against the Patriots came back in 2008, with Brady on the shelf with a torn ACL and (eventual 2011 Pro Bowl teammate) Matt Cassel as the team’s starter.
It’s a considerable sample size, too, with seven starts and seven losses, including two playoff head-to-heads.
But Rivers and the Chargers are not sweating that stat heading into this weekend’s Divisional Round meeting with the Patriots, especially considering the fact that it’s not as if the matchup is centered around Rivers going directly against Brady.
“That’s in the past,” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said during his conference call with the New England media. “That’s what I think about. It’s in the past. We have an opportunity to do it on Sunday so let’s make the most out of it.”
“It’s not something you think about a whole lot,” Rivers admitted. “It exists and it’s there but again, and I mean this, I don’t feel that I’m playing Tom. Certainly it’s a Tom Brady-led team and we know how things work with the quarterback and the head coach that have the record attached to it. We’ve got a heck of a challenge, our offense, going against that defense and how disciplined they play and how well they play especially this time of year.”
Rivers knows how damaging that Bill Belichick defense can be, too, as he’s thrown seven touchdown passes and 10 interceptions in those seven losses against Brady-led teams.
And though it’s been over a decade since these teams met in the postseason (though they did meet at Gillette Stadium during the 2017 regular season, which saw Rivers and Co. fall by a 21-13 final), it’s that detailed history that gives Rivers a rough idea of what to expect from the Patriots this Sunday.
“To me, there’s many similarities in all of the years I’ve played them of all of those teams,” Rivers noted of New England’s defense. “Many similarities from this team to those teams – just a sustained 10-plus wins and however many conference championships in a row and Super Bowls. It’s a similar formula when you have the same coach. They’ve had some turnover with the staff and things just like they have with players, but it’s impressive what they’ve done year-in and year-out.
“We’ve got our work cut out on that side of the ball,” Rivers added. “I think you’re aware of that stat that is out there, but it’s not something that I spend much time thinking about.”