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Chargers

Philip Rivers acknowledges regrets heading into what could be his final Chargers game

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers takes a snap against the Vikings.
Quarterback Philip Rivers could be playing in his final game with the Chargers against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images)

He stepped behind a podium bearing the Chargers logo for the same sort of regular weekly media session that has been a part of Philip Rivers’ life for 14 years.

The only difference Tuesday was that this session could have been his last as the franchise’s starting quarterback.

Rivers will next meet with reporters Sunday after the Chargers’ season ends in Kansas City. Unsigned beyond this year, there is no guarantee he’ll be back in 2020.

And, even if he does return, the 38-year-old explained that the regrets regarding this year already are being felt.

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“You hate to let a year go by,” Rivers said. “There have been too many of those in the last eight, nine, 10 years. It stings a little more. You hate always when you’re not in [the playoffs]. But it certainly hurts more when you’re in the home stretch.”

The Chargers will miss the postseason for the fifth time in six years and eighth time in 10 years. They are trying to avoid going winless in the AFC West for the first time since 2015.

Having stumbled to 5-10 in a season that began with high expectations following two playoff games a year ago, the Chargers have clinched one thing: last place in the division with a game to spare.

“We’ve had a lot happen that stings in a lot of ways,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “Just having a losing season stings. Yeah, we’re frustrated about that. But there’s nothing we can do about that now.”

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The Chargers finished 9-7 in Lynn’s first season and 12-4 a year ago. So, he’s experiencing his first losing season as an NFL head coach.

This team made few significant roster changes following last season and there was only one notable departure from the coaching staff. Then, in late October, Ken Whisenhunt was removed as offensive coordinator and replaced by Shane Steichen. There will be more changes before the 2020 offseason program begins.

“I don’t believe in doing the same thing and getting the same results,” Lynn said. “There will be some adjustments. We’ll see how many. But it sucks, first losing season as a head coach. It’s very frustrating for me. I don’t plan on doing it again.”

Along with Rivers, the Chargers’ other unrestricted free agents include running back Melvin Gordon, tight end Hunter Henry, safety Adrian Phillips, offensive lineman Michael Schofield, fullback Derek Watt and defensive lineman Damion Square.

Milestones on the horizon

hargers wide receiver Mike Williams runs after making a catch against the Oakland Raiders.
Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams runs after making a catch against the Oakland Raiders.
(Harry How / Getty Images)

Mike Williams needs 37 receiving yards and Austin Ekeler 50 to both reach 1,000 for the season.

They would join Keenan Allen in giving the Chargers three 1,000-yard receivers in the same year for the second time in franchise history. John Jefferson, Kellen Winslow and Charlie Joiner did it in 1980.

“The main focus is winning the game,” Rivers said. “But, certainly, you’d love to see Mike get over 1,000 and Austin get over 1,000. We’re not going into the game going, ‘How do we get that done?’ But I think it’s OK to be aware of that and be excited for those guys about the year they’ve had.”

Three 1,000-yard receivers on one team has happened only five times in NFL history. The most recent came in 2008 when Arizona did it.

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“The only stat I’m worried about are W’s and L’s,” Lynn said. “Milestones for players, that’s great. They work hard. But we put wins and losses before individual stats.”

Ekeler will be a restricted free agent. Reaching 1,000 yards certainly would help his case in contract negotiations.

Rivers likes Arrowhead Stadium

If Sunday’s game is Rivers’ last as a Charger, he’ll go out in one of his favorite venues.

This will be his 14th start at Arrowhead Stadium, where he is 6-7 with 3,642 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Coliseum in Oakland is the only road stadium in which he has thrown for more yards.

“It’s just old-school NFL,” Rivers said. “The atmosphere is awesome. It’ll be cold and raining or snowing, you know, the elements will be there. I’m sure they [the fans] will be cranked up.”

The Chiefs have clinched the AFC West but still are playing for postseason seeding.

The forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies with a high temperature of 37 degrees.


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