SAN DIEGO (AP) — Philip Rivers hardly ever loses down the stretch, having amassed a 33-6 record in his career in regular-season games in December and January.
Rivers and the rest of the San Diego Chargers (8-4) will be tested this month, starting with Sunday night's home game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (9-3).
Rivers is 1-5 against the Patriots, with the lone victory coming in 2008, when Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener. Rivers threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-10 victory against the Patriots, who had Matt Cassel at quarterback.
There have been three losses in the regular season and two gut-wrenching defeats in the playoffs — the pratfall at home in the divisional round following the 2006 season that led to coach Marty Schottenheimer getting fired and the loss at New England in the 2007 AFC championship game, when Rivers gamely played on a torn ACL in his right knee.
As he often does, Rivers is looking at the present, not the past.
"I've never played them by myself, thank goodness," Rivers said. "We've never played this Patriot team. We're 0-0 against this group. There's a lot of guys in that locker room that have never played the Patriots in their life. You can't really say this team is 1-5 against them. We're 0-0 against them but I think the one thing that does hold true about a Patriots team is that over the last how many years, they've had a great quarterback, they've had great coaches and they've always had the players and the scheme and they've always been a team that's tough to deal with."
Sunday night should be no different. The Patriots are coming off their first loss in eight games, a 26-21 defeat at Green Bay. The Patriots flew straight to San Diego, mostly to cut down on travel. They didn't get much of a break in the weather because it's been raining the last two days.
Asked about his relationship with Brady, Rivers said: "I can't say there's a relationship there. He's one guy I don't really know. I've had very brief conversations the years we've played against him. The respect I have for him as a quarterback is utmost."
Rivers led the Chargers to a thrilling comeback at Baltimore on Sunday, throwing for 383 yards and three touchdowns, including the winning 1-yarder to Eddie Royal with 38 seconds left that gave San Diego a 34-33 victory.
The Chargers are confident after winning three straight.
"We're excited about the challenge. We know it's not going to be easy but we do believe we can win the game. We're going to prepare like crazy all week and go out there and cut it loose," Rivers said.
The teams haven't met since 2011, when the Patriots won 35-21.
The Chargers practiced in the rain Wednesday. Coach Mike McCoy, who hates discussing injuries, said guard Ryan Miller was hurt when he slipped coming out of the locker room.
McCoy said he'd have more information Thursday. When asked if Miller was hospitalized, McCoy said: "Are we tomorrow yet?"
Also missing practice were nose tackle Ryan Carrethers (elbow), outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (rest), defensive tackle Corey Liuget (knee) and rookie center Chris Watt (calf). Inside linebacker Andrew Gachkar (knee) was limited.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.