|After being picked off a career-high 20 times last season, Philip Rivers is intent on throwing the ball to the right color jerseys in 2012. (Getty Images)|
Chargers QB Philip Rivers threw a career-high 20 interceptions last season, and he's made it clear he plans to lower that number this season. And Rivers says he will not alter his mental approach to the game to do it.
“I have always had the mentality to protect the ball,” Rivers said. “I've had it my whole career. So, my mentality has not changed any.”
Monday's performance against the Raiders hinted otherwise. Rivers played it safe in Oakland's territory, and the Chargers were a dismal 1 of 5 in the red zone.
But Rivers and coach Norv Turner pointed out that each trip resulted in points. “I was real excited by what we did inside the 20,” Turner said. “In our first five games last year, I think we had six turnovers.” Rivers said the Chargers have won 90 percent of the games he has played when they don't turn the ball over.
“We talk all the time about ending every possession with a kick,” Rivers said. “If we can do that, whether it's a punt, field goal or extra point, we are going to be in good shape and win almost every game.”
Rivers also defended his record before 2011 when he threw only 58 interceptions in his first seven seasons. “We want to take care of the ball,” Rivers said. “If you look over the last six years, we have done a pretty good job of it.”
Last year could have been an anomaly. The Chargers O-line was riddled with injuries through the first 12 weeks of the season. By Week 12, Rivers had been sacked 28 times and had thrown 18 interceptions. Rivers was only sacked twice and threw just two INTs through the final five games, and the Chargers went 4-1.
It's clear, though, that Rivers is looking ahead, not back.
“We have already played a game,” he said. "Last year is a long ways a way.”