CARSON, Calif. — After a record-breaking day, Philip Rivers was quick to credit the guys on the receiving end of his uncommonly accurate passes.
Rivers tied the NFL mark for consecutive completions and broke records for the most to start a game and the highest completion percentage in a game as the Los Angeles Chargers dismantled the Arizona Cardinals 45-10 on Sunday.
"There were some catches that could easily fall incomplete. There were a lot of guys involved in it," Rivers said.
The 15-year veteran was on target with his first 25 passes and finished 28 of 29 for 259 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters. It was also his 11th straight game with multiple TD passes.
Rivers’ 25 straight completions tied Ryan Tannehill’s mark from 2015. The Dolphins QB completed his last seven throws against the Tennessee Titans in on Oct. 18, 2015, and then his first 18 the following week against the Houston Texans.
"There are far-off dreams where you wonder if you are going to have a game where you are never going to miss one and then you say, ‘Probably not.’ The fact that we were staying there in the fourth quarter says something," Rivers said.
Rivers — who said he did not know he was near Tannehill’s record — tied the mark with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Keenan Allen midway through the third quarter. He had his only incompletion on the next possession when he was rushed and was unable to connect on a short pass to Austin Ekeler.
Rivers did break Mark Brunell’s record for completions to start a game. Brunell had 22 straight for the Washington Redskins against the Houston Texans on Sept. 24, 2006. Rivers’ 96.8 per cent accuracy surpassed Kurt Warner’s 92.3 per cent, which was set in 2009 when he went 24 of 26 for Arizona against Jacksonville.
"He was hot," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. "Guys were getting open and making plays for him. There were some great catches out there today."
All three of Rivers’ touchdown passes were plays near the boundary where the receiver was able to bring the ball in while being covered. Mike Williams caught two in the corner of the end zone, and Allen’s was just inbounds while being draped by Arizona’s Tre Boston.
"He makes everything easier for us as receivers," Williams said. "Philip put the ball up for me to go make a play and I’m just going up and making it."
Of Rivers’ 28 completions — which went to seven players — eight came on screen passes behind the line of scrimmage. Five were in the air for 10 yards or more, including three that were 20 or more yards.
The Cardinals (2-9) jumped out to a 10-0 lead with scores on their first two possessions before the Chargers (8-3) scored touchdowns on six of seven possessions. Los Angeles seized momentum with a 28-point second quarter.
"We played a complete football game," Lynn said. "It started off slow but we made adjustments and guys responded."
Rivers was 19 of 19 in the first half for 187 yards. According to SportRadar, the last perfect first half with 15 or more attempts was by Warren Moon, who went 16 of 16 for Seattle against Oakland on Nov. 1, 1998. He completed all 10 passes during a two-minute drill that culminated in Williams’ TD with 16 seconds remaining.
Melvin Gordon, who came into the game sixth in the league in rushing, ran for two touchdowns in the second quarter before suffering a knee injury in the third. He finished with 61 yards on 10 carries.
Austin Ekeler accounted for 103 yards from scrimmage (35 rushing, 68 receiving) and a touchdown.
Arizona’s Josh Rosen, who grew up nearby in Manhattan Beach and played at UCLA, was 12 of 19 for 105 yards with a touchdown and interception. David Johnson had 17 carries for 63 yards. The Cardinals had 108 yards of offence in the first quarter but just 41 the rest of the game.
"We talked about coming in here on the road, starting fast. I thought we did a great job of doing that, taking the first drive down and scoring, and from that point, the wheels just sort of fell off a little bit," Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said.
41 AND COUNTING
Larry Fitzgerald’s 25-yard touchdown from Rosen was his first career catch at StubHub Center, the 41st different stadium where Fitzgerald has a reception. He could extend that total when the Cardinals go to Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Dec. 16.
BOSA BREAKS OUT
Defensive end Joey Bosa, who returned last week after missing the first nine games with a bone bruise in his left foot, had two sacks and five tackles.
"I felt more confident knowing I went through 31 plays last week," said Bosa, who had the sixth multi-sack game of his three-year career. "It felt amazing to get a sack. It’s been too long between sacks. It was fun."
Cardinals: Linebacker Josh Bynes suffered a thumb injury during the second quarter. Wilks said the injury is not considered to be serious.
Chargers: Gordon did not return after his knee injury. Lynn said he hopes to know more on Monday, adding: "Hopefully what happened is not serious. His durability has been pretty good this season."
Cardinals: Travel to Green Bay next Sunday.
Chargers: Travel to Pittsburgh next Sunday for a prime-time game.