Following a win in the opening round of the playoffs, Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was quick to offer praise on Sunday’s opponent, including Tom Brady, whom Rivers categorized as “arguably the best quarterback ever to play.”
On Wednesday, it was Brady’s turn to return the admiration.
“I think he’s an incredible player and has been since he came in the league,” Brady said of Rivers, via the Chargers’ official website. “I don’t know him that well. I’ve known a lot of guys that’ve played with him, and they all say great things. He’s a great leader, he’s a great passer of the football, he’s incredibly tough and has just been a prolific passer.”
If Brady’s scouting report on the opposing signal-caller sounds a tad familiar, it should when considering the Patriots‘ quarterback sees a lot of himself in Rivers.
“He’s kind of like me,” Brady said. “He wants the ball out of his hands. He kind of wants to be able to anticipate coverages. He’s got really a great group of skill players — backs, tight ends, receivers. They’re playing as well as any offense that’s played all season.”
With Rivers under center, the Chargers wrapped up the regular season with a 12-4 record. Rivers completed 347 of 508 passes for 4,308 yards and 32 touchdowns to pace an offense that ranked 11th in total offense, 10th in passing and sixth in scoring.
Meanwhile, Sunday’s matchup features the seventh time that Brady and Rivers will square off on the field over the course of their accomplished careers, including twice in the postseason. Brady is 7-0 in head-to-head matchups against Rivers, whose lone win against the Patriots came in 2008 when Matt Cassel started for an injured Brady.
There is a taste of league history for Sunday’s game too, when the 37-year-old Rivers and the 41-year-old Brady are on the field. The two quarterbacks are a combined 78 years and 199 days old, which marks the highest combined age of opposing postseason signal-callers since the 1970 merger.
Round 8 of Brady vs. Rivers also features just the third matchup in NFL playoff history between two quarterbacks with 50,000-plus career yards passing in a game. Rivers has thrown for 54,656 yards, which ranks eighth on the all-time list, and Brady has passed for 70,514, which ranks fourth.
Prolific production aside, both quarterbacks understand they won’t directly go against each other. But there’s no denying the mutual admiration between two of the NFL’s top quarterbacks.
“He’s had an incredible year,” Brady said.