FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady typically shrugs off any mention of records or milestones he sets.
But even he had to chuckle at the one he and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers will mark when they meet in today’s divisional playoffs.
Brady, who will be 41 years and 163 days old, and Rivers, at 37 years and 36 days old, will combine to be the oldest pair of quarterbacks to face each other in an NFL playoff game, breaking the mark Brady held with Peyton Manning.
“Nice,” Brady said of the impending footnote. “Nice and old.”
Today will be just the fourth playoff meeting between the teams, with the Patriots holding a 2-1 edge.
Rivers enters today with a 1-7 record against the Patriots, including 0-4 in games in Foxborough and 0-2 in the playoffs. Rivers earned his lone victory against New England during the 2008 regular season, when the Chargers were still in San Diego. Brady was sidelined for that game by a knee injury and Matt Cassel started in his place.
Brady is 7-0 as a starter against Rivers.
The Patriots (11-5), who captured their 10th straight AFC East title this season, will be seeking their eighth consecutive trip to the AFC title game.
The Chargers (13-4) haven’t even been to the conference title game since losing 21-12 to the Patriots during the 2007 season.
Rivers played in that game just days removed from tearing the ACL in his right knee. He limped his way through it while being intercepted twice and failing to throw a touchdown pass.
It’s become the toughness brand for a quarterback that hasn’t missed a game since becoming the Chargers starter in 2006.
Rivers, who led his team to five wins in its last six regular-season games and a road win at Baltimore in the wild-card round last week , said he’s tried to keep past shortcomings against New England out of his mind this week.
“It’s not something you think about a whole lot,” he said. “It exists and it’s there but again, and I mean this, I don’t feel that I’m playing Tom. Certainly, it’s a Tom Brady-led team and we know how things work with the quarterback and the head coach that have the record attached to it. We’ve got a heck of a challenge.”
It will also be a chance to earn a signature win for second-year Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, who has steered Los Angeles through its relocation and a season that included a game in London.
To have another chance at this stage of his career to notch a playoff win against a New England team that has been the standard in the conference is an opportunity not lost on Rivers.
“Fired up to have a shot,” Rivers said.
SAINTS VS. EAGLES: New Orleans coach Sean Payton dismisses the premise that the Eagles could derive extra motivation from the widespread perception that New Orleans ran up the score on them when they met in November.
“My question would be: We’re all playing hard in these divisional playoff games, right?” Payton began, referring to today’s rematch in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs. “Are you going to play harder” because of a perceived slight?
Still, Payton expects a more competitive affair than the Saints’ 48-7 blowout of the Eagles on Nov. 18, which gave Philadelphia the dubious distinction of becoming the first reigning Super Bowl champion to lose by that wide a margin in the following regular season.
The Eagles (10-7) appeared to be sinking fast when their loss in New Orleans dropped them to 4-6. But they’ve rallied to win six of seven since, including a road victory against the Los Angeles Rams that helped New Orleans (13-3) capture the conference’s top seed.
“They’ve kind of been in a playoff role really going back to those games, needing to win to get in,” Payton noted. “So it’s impressive.”
Now the Eagles, who opened as 10-point underdogs this week, can ruin the Saints’ Super Bowl dreams with a second straight road upset.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Eagles tight end Zach Ertz said. “We’re a completely different team than we were seven weeks ago. I don’t think the team that showed up on that Sunday is even remotely close to the team that we are right now.”