Even without Von Miller out on the field in the Denver Broncos divisional win over the San Diego Chargers, the team still sacked Philip Rivers four times.
Two of those sacks came from former teammate and team-leading sack man Shaun Phillips.
“Anytime you get a hit on a quarterback it’s always good because you get a sack, that’s one less completion that they could have completed or a touchdown,” Phillips said. “It’s always a tempo setter. The more you can keep pressure the more your quarterbacks get fidgety in the pocket.”
The ten-year pro was released by the Chargers after last season. He was originally slated to be Elvis Dumervil’s replacement, but with Miller serving a six-game suspension and then going down for the year with an ACL tear, Phillips stepped up in his absence as well. Phillips is arguably the team’s most valuable free agent signing.
Heading into the post season, Phillips had 79.5 sacks. Just a couple of them came against the man who Phillips practiced against for the majority of his career. You could tell that he wanted a couple more sacks on Rivers.
Phillips, Malik Jackson, Jeremy Mince, and Terrance Knighton gave Rivers fits all day whether they were recording sacks or knocking him on his back right after getting a pass off. The number of temper tantrums Rivers threw far outweighed his completions in the first half.
Those defensive guys are a big reason why the Chargers didn’t put any points on the board until there was less than 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter. It represented the longest the Broncos shut out an opponent in playoff history.
Those same guys will need to step up big again next week against the Patriots’ run game, but we’ll dive into that a little later.
For now, let’s bask in this one — not only Peyton Manning’s first playoff win as a Bronco, but Shaun Phillips’ as well.