DENVER — San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has had his best NFL season.
And, for him, that made it even harder to swallow Sunday's divisional playoff loss at Denver.
"It feels worse right now, and worse than the past three years" when the Chargers failed to make the playoffs, Rivers said after the 24-17 defeat. "We were one of eight left. Every team is going to feel like we do today, besides the one team that wins it all.
"We fought together, played together, the way we compete and the character of this team allows us to hold our heads high. That doesn't mean you're happy or think it's OK, but to bounce back from 5-7 and get in this position is nothing to be ashamed of. Obviously we're not happy, but there's nothing to be ashamed of."
He said these experiences, with the bitter taste of losing, are especially instructive to young players.
"You don't want this feeling again," he said. "Playoff football is awesome. There is nothing better when it comes to the NFL. There is the NFL, and then there's the NFL playoffs. It's in a separate column."