Rivers story still to be told

Is the glass half empty or half full? Does Marty Schottenheimer have limited trust in Philip Rivers or infinite trust in his defense? That question will answer itself as the season progresses, but for now remains perfectly legitimate.

"The defense continued to put considerable pressure on their passer," Schottenheimer said. "That made it difficult for them."

Difficult would be putting it nicely. They were trounced in the trenches.

LaDainian Tomlinson gained more yards on 31 carries (131) than the Raiders offense gained on the entire evening. Despite Tomlinson's predictably powerful outing, he still gave all the credit to the defense.

"Our pass rush was incredible," he said. "I have never seen a game like that where we got after them. They couldn't block us."

So perhaps that is why Schottenheimer restricted Rivers to 11 pass attempts. After all, when you throw the ball only three things can happen, and two of them are bad.

Now the question remains, what will happen when Rivers is forced to air it out more regularly?

Antonio Gates, for one, like what he saw from Rivers in his first career start.

"Philip did a great job manning the huddle," Gates said.

The problem is no one saw enough of Rivers to make any accurate projections about how he may handle an increased workload.

Part of that can be blamed on the Raiders' lack of competitiveness, but they were equally inept in 2005 and Drew Brees went to the air 20 times against them without being intercepted. It would have been nice to see Rivers approach that number in a game that was even more lopsided than the score would indicate.

When Rivers did throw, however, he was poised and accurate.

"When you don't throw it a lot you have to be efficient," Rivers said.

The longer the defense remains dominant, the longer Rivers remains an enigma. But no one is rooting for the defense to fail just so Rivers' mettle can be tested. The team is content with him taking baby steps, at least for the time being.

"He managed the game in terms of doing exactly what the coaches wanted him to do," said Tomlinson of Rivers.

The next test comes Sunday, when the Chargers host the Tennessee Titans. If the defense is as dominant this week as they were last, the Chargers will win. If not, then Rivers will be forced to throw and throw well if the team is to be victorious.

But imagine if the defense can continue to dominate and Rivers can open up the offense. Then the glass would be neither half empty nor half full; it would be absolutely brimming.


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