Philip Rivers impersonates Ryan Leaf for Halloween, center exchange leads to loss

Posted: 11/01/2011 in football
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The San Diego Chargers appeared to have overcome a night of missed offensive opportunities, costly turnovers and a month’s worth of penalties as the clocked ticked under a minute left in Monday night’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Then we learned that Philip Rivers had elected to show up at Arrowhead Stadium as Ryan Leaf for Halloween.

The easiest play in the NFL – the center snap – proved to be the downfall as Rivers fumbled the exchange from Nick Hardwick at the Chiefs’ 15-yard line. Kansas City’s Andy Studebaker recovered the ball with 48 seconds left to earn the Chiefs a reprieve and send the contest into overtime.

The Chargers went three-and-out in the extra session and the Chiefs then punished San Diego with a game-winning 13-play drive, the winning points coming on Ryan Succop’s 30-yard field goal for a 23-20 victory.

That makes two straight horrific defeats for the Chargers, who are now tied for first in the AFC West at 4-3 with Kansas City and the Oakland Raiders. The Chiefs are going in the other direction with four consecutive victories.

Rivers and the Chargers looked like they had never run a two-minute drill before in last week’s loss to the New York Jets. And now Rivers makes a grade-school mistake that had former NFL quarterbacks Steve Young and Trent Dilfer delivering harsh assessments on ESPN’s postgame show.

Young termed failing to receive the snap as “junior high” and Dilfer called it “remedial” that Rivers gagged so badly in such a situation. Both players were stunned that any NFL quarterback could make such a gaffe, let alone someone who has a contract worth $98 million.

The play definitely was Pisarcik-like and something that Rivers will file in the “Worst Memories” department of his brain.

“Pisarcik” is one term a football team never wants to be associated with. It stems from the New York Giants having a victory in the bag in 1978 until quarterback Joe Pisarcik failed to get a handoff into the grasp of Larry Csonka with Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Herman Edwards picking up the ball and returning it for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 19-17 victory.

That play is the reason why teams take a knee when the outcome is sealed instead of running a play.

The center-exchange issue summed up another mistake-prone night for Rivers, who also threw two more interceptions. He has tossed an NFL-high 11 interceptions and has also lost three fumbles.

Instead of a Pro Bowl quarterback, Rivers has played more like Billy Joe Tolliver or the aforementioned Leaf, who once went 1-for-15 for four yards passing with two interceptions and three fumbles in a 1998 game against the Chiefs.

There’s no doubting Rivers will have a hard time putting his NFL-high 14th turnover behind him over the next few days.

“Obviously, we could have played better,” Rivers said afterwards. “But when you know you’re a minute away from leaking the clock and kicking a field goal to end it – after the way we fought back – and you blow it on a play on something that never happens and shouldn’t ever happen.”

Chargers’ fans will quickly pile on coach Norv Turner, citing how the offense settled for four field goals and scored just one touchdown despite advancing inside the Chiefs’ 35-yard line an astounding nine times.

They will also look at the 12 penalties and say the Chargers are undisciplined and make silly mistakes. Left tackle Marcus McNeill had a forgettable contest and drew six flags all by himself (four false starts, a holding penalty and illegal hands to the face) as Kansas City’s Tamba Hali terrorized him all game long.

But this loss doesn’t fall on Turner’s shoulders or any of the assistant coaches. If Rivers doesn’t fumble away the game-winning opportunity for kicker Nick Novak and the Chargers win the game, nobody is complaining about Turner’s coaching performance.

This loss falls on the $98 million quarterback – the guy who struggled to run a two-minute drill against the Jets and couldn’t handle a center exchange against the Chiefs.

And guess who the Chargers play this Sunday? The undefeated Green Bay Packers – the defending Super Bowl champions – and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Playing the Packers with a short week of preparation and a quarterback with a bunch of demons to deal with doesn’t sound like the optimum situation.

Next Halloween, Rivers needs to pick somebody else to impersonate. Being Ryan Leaf for Halloween didn’t work out so well.

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