Shaun Phillips anxious to face Rivers, former team
ENGLEWOOD, Colorado (AP) — Shaun Phillips knows this much about former teammate Philip Rivers: He runs his mouth about as well as an offense.
Phillips appreciates that, because the Denver Broncos hybrid linebacker-defensive is quite a talker, too. He believes the best way to quiet the San Diego quarterback is simply by sacking him. That’s the plan anyway when Phillips goes up against the Chargers, his former team, on Sunday in the NFL divisional playoffs.
Actually, Phillips and Rivers have some history with jawing at each other, dating back to when they were in college and met in the 2004 Senior Bowl.
“I think I chased him out of bounds or something like that, and I was like, ‘You better run out,’” Phillips recounted. “He was like, ‘What are you going to do?’”
And then they each end up being drafted by the Chargers — Rivers fourth overall and Phillips in the fourth round. Their squawking back then remains a running joke between them.
No joke, though, is the respect Phillips has for Rivers. He’s making sure his teammates on the Broncos’ defense are on high alert as well. Rivers has a 10-6 record against Denver, throwing for 3,830 yards and 27 touchdowns.
“He hates to lose,” Phillips said. “That’s what makes him a really good quarterback. But we also have a bunch of guys on defense that hate to lose as well. So that’s why it’s going to be a fun challenge for both sides of the ball. The excitement is there.”
Phillips is one of three former Chargers going against their old team, along with offensive guard Louis Vasquez and defensive back Quentin Jammer.
“Anytime you play against your old team, you always have a little chip on your shoulder, a little extra edge to get after them,” Phillips said.
He spent nine years with the Chargers, and had 69 ½ sacks. He came to the Broncos this season and led them with 10 sacks, including two against the Chargers. Each team beat the other on the road this season.
Since his arrival, Phillips has brought a little swagger to Denver’s defense. He became a vital component to Denver’s success with Von Miller’s early season suspension and even more now that Miller’s sidelined with a knee injury.
Phillips is sure to give Rivers an ear full on the field. It’s just the nature of their relationship.
Still, he thinks Rivers sometimes draws a bad reputation for his fiery emotions.
“Everyone thinks he’s talking trash, saying cuss words and stuff like that,” Phillips said. “The guy doesn’t even curse. But he is competitive.”
To fans in the Mile High City, Rivers is sometimes viewed as public enemy No. 1. Rivers understands the animosity, but tried to thaw the ice a little bit.
“I have a great respect for Denver and that atmosphere and those fans, so there’s no hatred from my end,” Rivers said. “There’s respect there. I don’t know if that goes the other way. Again, I love playing there and I’m looking forward to it.”