Posted by Will Brinson
Philip Rivers didn't post raw "MVP numbers" on Sunday night as San Diego manhandled Indianapolis on the road .
But he didn't need to -- the Chargers played like a complete team from start to finish and, despite sitting at 6-5, took on the appearance of an elite team in the NFL.
It warrants mentioning that they've historically dominated the Colts and Peyton Manning in recent years -- any number of statistical comparison will show you how much worse Manning is against the Bolts than the rest of the league. And things can change quickly -- after all, it's been the rare occasion this year when we've been able to name someone "elite."
But the Chargers, having made the necessary changes to put veterans on the special teams unit to fix their one really problematic area, look like they're getting there, even if they can't explain why they get so hot so quickly after a slow start to the season.
"I don't know, but hopefully we can keep it going -- we got it going good right now" Rivers said after the game. "When you talk about a team win, this is just what it was. We got turnovers on defeense, we didn't turn it over on offense, we covered kicks and we didn't get kicks blocked, and when you do that, most of the time you're going to win."
That seems blasé, but it's true -- don't make mistakes and you'll win football games.
On the hand, in Manning's case, if you lob up a 31/48, 285-yard, two TD and four interception line for the evening, things might not go so well. Those stats didn't lie on Sunday night, and they provide direct evidence of a quarterback who was consistently flustered by a Chargers defense that dominated the Colts at the line of scrimmage, refused to allow Indy to run, snuffed out screen passes and generally looked more prepared than their opponent.
That's not all Peyton's fault, because the Colts simply can't run, and they knew that going in. San Diego has a stupendous defense, and Indy, with 24 rushing yards on 13 carries, didn't ever really bother trying to establish a ground game.
For Rivers, however, the stats are a bit deceiving -- he was helped by a defense that took two interceptions to the house and a special teams unit that was on point, something that troubled them earlier in the year. All that while dealing with a still-injured Antonio Gates and a re-sidelined (this time for a calf injury) Vincent Jackson.
But he was efficient as hell, going 19/23 for 185 yards, throwing short passes when Indy tightened up over the top, and allowing the ground game to turn what seemed like a shootout into a grinder of a game.
"It turned into that," Rivers said "We found out early on they weren't going to let us throw it over their head. I threw as many checkdowns tonight as I have in a long time."
The weird thing, though, is that most people who watched this game understand that Rivers not forcing passes and picking up a huge road win in whatever way it took is the real sign of an MVP. Yeah, he might not catch Dan Marino for the single-season passing record now, but if the Chargers keep developing like they have over the past four weeks, there's a pretty good chance he'll have a chance to catch him in total Super Bowl rings.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .