INDIANAPOLIS – On a day his defense matched his offense’s touchdown output, Philip Rivers had himself a day to remember nonetheless.
And, humble as he is, Rivers knew it.
“I was aware of the milestones, but I didn’t come into the game thinking about that,’’ he said on a Zoom conference call following the Indianapolis Colts’ 36-7 throttling of the New York Jets Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. “You feel like if you are healthy enough, those things will kind of come as the season goes.
“It was about trying to win our second in a row, be 1-0 this week.’’
But it also was about adding to a Hall of Fame-worthy resume.
His economical afternoon against the Jets included his 400th career touchdown pass (to Mo Alie-Cox) and moving past the 60,000-yard plateau (60,065). Each ranks 6th in NFL history.
Rivers isn’t one to accumulate keepsake footballs, but made an exception on his 400th TD.
“Yeah, that’s one of the few I can really remember if any,’’ he said. “I saw one of our guys got it and I just asked them, ‘Hey, did you get that one?’
“Yeah, I think that’s one to keep.’’
And one Alie-Cox won’t. He’ll have to be satisfied with simply catching the 1-yarder.
“Shoot, it means a lot,’’ he said. “I had no clue it was even a milestone until I just heard you guys in the background talking about it. It feels great.’’
And since we’re in the history-making mood, Rivers pushed his career completions mark to 4,980, which moved him past Dan Marino onto the No. 5 all-time rung. His 125th win as a starting QB nudged Rivers past Fran Tarkenton for 8th-most.
One more. His 226th start is 11th all-time.
Rivers is 38 and in his 17th season, but has full appreciation of what he’s been able to accomplish. He remembers being QB1 for his father, Steve, at Athens (Ala.) High School and throwing six passes in a playoff game because he implored his dad “Let’s keep running it, they can’t stop it.’’
“It’s always been about the team winning,’’ Rivers said. “It’s still the same way . . . the milestones are meaningful. I could sit here and tell you they don’t matter and I don’t care about them, but they are meaningful.
“I’ve dreamed of playing quarterback in this league since I was a little kid and some of those guys are far, far away on that list in both yardage and touchdowns.’’
The short list comprising the top-6 in yards and TDs with Rivers: Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Brett Favre.
That’s QB royalty.
“Some of those guys I grew up loving,’’ Rivers said. “I was fans of, posters on the wall, some of them I have been able to compete against. It certainly is special. Certainly thankful. There’s always been five guys or more with backs and tight ends blocking like crazy until I need to throw them.’’
Rivers anticipated sharing his latest milestones Sunday evening with those closest to him.
“I’m sure my dad and I will talk about it tonight,’’ he said. “My wife and I will talk about it, you know I’ve already gotten a bunch of text messages.
“I think it’s okay when you’re not consumed with it or caught up in it to allow yourself to go, ‘Man, gosh.’ Really, it’s just overwhelming thankfulness.’’
According to Reich, Rivers’ latest rewriting of a decorated bio came in an ultra-efficient game: 17-of-21, 217 yards.
“Philip played unreal football today,’’ he insisted. He was near flawless. We will see the film, but just so accurate with the football, so many good decisions.’’
More from Mo
What type of encore did Alie-Cox produce? The ever-developing tight end not only was on the receiving end of Rivers’ only TD, but his longest completion as well. In the second quarter, Alie-Cox found himself all alone in the middle of the Jets secondary and Rivers hit him with a 45-yarder.
“Oh man, I have never been in the open field like that at any point in my career,’’ he said. “I was like kind of lost. At first when I caught it, I was expecting a hit, but the hit never came and I was just running and running and it finally came.’’
Alie-Cox finished with 50 yards on three catches. In the week 2 win over Minnesota, he notched career highs with five catches and 111 yards.
Another for Taylor
Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor made certain to keep the football from his first NFL TD – a 5-yarder against the Vikings. He notched No. 2 against the Jets – a 1-yarder – and was surprised to learn he could keep that one as well.
“I just found out recently that you can keep any ball that you want. I didn’t know that,’’ Taylor said. “I’m thinking you are going to keep the first game ball, maybe your first multi-touchdown game, so I just found out from the running back group that you can keep every single football.
“I’m definitely going to have to ask the equipment managers if they still remember which one was the touchdown ball.’’
Taylor finished with 59 yards and the TD on 13 carries.
He’s the first Colts rookie back with rushing TDs in consecutive games since Javarris James in weeks 13-14 of 2010.
This and that
Rookie kicker Rodrigo Blankenship converted 42- and 41-yard field goals and four PATs, but had a 41-yarder glance off the right upright. One of his PATs also hit the right post, but ricocheted in. . . . Rigoberto Sanchez punted four times after having just two in the first two games. He was lethal. Three of his punts were downed at the Jets’ 7-, 8- and 8-yard lines. . . . Linebacker Darius Leonard led the defense with 11 tackles.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.