The Wolfpacker

January 2018

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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102 ■ THE WOLFPACKER ■ PACK PROS Two Pack Quarterbacks Are In Playoff, MVP Races BY RYAN TICE O nly nine colleges across the country can claim at least two former quarterbacks who started in the NFL through the first 14 weeks of the season (counting a player for any school he took an official snap). NC State and Florida are the only ones from that group that boast multiple quarterbacks with at least eight starts through Dec. 11. In fact, all four former NCSU signal- callers — the Chargers' Philip Rivers, the Seahawks' Russell Wilson, the Colts' Jacoby Brissett and the Bears' Mike Glennon — have opened at least four tilts this year. Rivers and Wilson make up not only the best one-two combo under center from any school, but each has their team in the playoff hunt and are in the MVP discussion because of it. The Chargers, led by their reborn 14th- year signal-caller, and Seahawks, quarter- backed by their bonafide star, would both be the first teams left out of the playoffs with three weeks left in the regular season. However, both are playing well and give their teams a chance to make up ground dur- ing the stretch run. After a 0-4 start, the Chargers have gone 7-2 and are tied for first in the AFC West. Rivers is a major reason his team — the one with a rookie head coach in Anthony Lynn that is still feeling the effects of its move from San Diego, including playing its home games in a 27,000-seat stadium with empty seats every week — has been able to recover from its awful open. In four straight games, Nov. 19-Dec. 10, all Chargers' victories, the veteran com- pleted 69.1 percent of his attempts for 1,348 yards with eight touchdowns and zero in- terceptions — and he only played the first two snaps of the fourth quarter Dec. 10. He posted a passer rating of at least 103.2 in each contest, the first 100-plus four-game streak for an NFL field general since weeks 2-6 of 2014. "The game is never over with Philip," Hall of Fame running back and former teammate LaDainian Tomlinson, now an NFL Network analyst, told The New York Post Dec. 9. "The ability to fight for 60 minutes, to be able to always lay it out there on the line, that's what he means to the organization. "And then, even more than that, just to be available, to be always in the starting lineup. That's the biggest thing to me that you can give your organization." When the New York Giants benched Eli Manning, Rivers became the active leader for consecutive starts by a quarterback with 198 (189 regular-season and nine playoff games) through Dec. 10. He is quickly approaching Manning's streak of 222, which is third in league his- tory behind Peyton Manning's 227 and Brett Favre's 321 — no other signal-caller has ever reached 150. In the Chargers' 30-13 win over Wash- ington Dec. 10 — played two days after his 36th birthday — Rivers also continued to climb up the NFL's all-time passing leaders list, surpassing Warren Moon for ninth place in passing yards (49,444) and becoming just the third ever to throw for at least 3,500 yards in 10 straight years (the other two are Peyton Manning and Drew Brees). He has also moved up to seventh in all-time touch- down throws (337).'s Andy Benoit noted Rivers "is playing the best football of his (maybe Hall of Fame) career." In a change from recent seasons, he's re- ceived better protection and has a cupboard full of young weapons, who are healthy and blooming — 1,000-yard receiver Keenan Allen missed all but nine games the last two years, top running back Melvin Gordon was added prior to the 2015 season and second-year pro Hunter Henry looks to be the heir apparent to tight end mainstay An- tonio Gates, who has been slowed due to age and injuries. Meanwhile, in early November, The MMQB's Peter King tabbed Wilson No. 4 in his MVP race — Rivers didn't make his top 12 at that time — "because of the success he has had with the worst offensive line in football and with the shaky nature of the running game." Heading into the final three weeks of the 2017 regular-season campaign, Chargers quarter- back Philip Rivers was up to seventh on the NFL's all-time list for touchdown passes (337) and was ninth in passing yards (49,444). PHOTO COURTESY LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

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