Riding an unprecedented streak, Philip Rivers has played a significant role in the San Diego Chargers’ longest winning streak in five seasons.
He’s also been a major part of their recent success against the Kansas City Chiefs, and San Diego will look for a fifth consecutive win over its well-rested AFC West rivals Sunday.
Rivers is the first quarterback to post a rating of 120 or higher in five consecutive games and finished at 123.8 in a 31-28 comeback win in Oakland last Sunday. He had three touchdown passes for the third straight game and topped 300 yards for the second time this season with 313, but the Chargers didn’t wrap up the victory until Jason Verrett’s interception with 1:13 to go.
Rivers completed 11 of his final 14 passes while leading the Chargers (5-1) to 17 points in the final 18 minutes and keeping them tied with Dallas and Philadelphia for the NFL’s best record.
"There are different stats that somebody has kept for a long time, and they are meaningful, knowing you were tied with (Johnny) Unitas and (Kurt) Warner until (Sunday)," Rivers said. "What it says is that we’ve had a great five-game stretch. It doesn’t say anymore than that but I think it speaks to the guys catching the football, the guys protecting and the whole group."
Running back Branden Oliver scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:56 left in his first career start. Oliver had 101 yards, including 29 on the final scoring drive, and has 215 in his last two games.
"I’m the type of guy that, if you keep giving me the ball, I feel like I get stronger as the game goes," said the undrafted rookie.
The Chargers have won five in a row for the first time since an 11-game win streak to finish the 2009 season, which tied their longest since the AFL-NFL merger.
San Diego has won 11 of 13 over Kansas City (2-3) and Rivers has a rating of 119.8 in the four-game win streak in the series. He had three touchdowns in each of the two matchups last season and threw for 392 yards, including the winning 26-yard TD with 24 seconds left, in a 41-38 victory in Kansas City on Nov. 24.
The Chargers won 27-24 in overtime Dec. 29 for their series-best sixth in a row at home. They’re riding a six-game overall win streak in southern California, their longest in the regular season since seven consecutive victories Nov. 1, 2009-Oct. 3, 2010.
The Chiefs have dropped two of three on the road and had a string of high-scoring performances snapped with a 22-17 loss in San Francisco on Oct. 5. Kansas City totaled 75 points in wins at Miami and versus New England but was held off the scoreboard in the final 26 1/2 minutes against the 49ers.
Coach Andy Reid gave the team nearly a full week off, a practice that helped him win 13 straight games after the bye week while in Philadelphia. Reid, though, has lost his last two such contests.
"Listen, I’ve done it this way for a long time and it’s been fairly successful," Reid said. "Sometimes I think it’s good to step away whether you’re doing well or not doing well. Coming off a win or a loss I think sometimes it’s good to get away and get recharged."
The time off could give Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry a chance to return for the first time since spraining his right ankle in a 24-17 loss in Denver on Sept. 14. The Chiefs were thin in the secondary with nickel back Chris Owens out with a knee injury, and cornerback Ron Parker was moved over to fill Berry’s spot.
The statuses of wide receiver Eddie Royal (ribs) and cornerback Brandon Flowers (groin) are unknown for San Diego after both were injured last week, but Flowers was able to practice Friday.
Flowers was released by the Chiefs in June even though he was coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance.
”If I’m out there that means I’m good enough to play,” said Flowers, who missed the Sept. 14 game with the same injury. ”I thought it would be fun. I never got a chance to play an old team before, so definitely it would be fun to go out there and play against the guys I played with for six years.”
Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles needs 53 yards to pass Priest Holmes’ franchise record of 6,070. Charles had 115 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries against San Diego in November after totaling 167 yards in his prior three matchups.