San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) passes against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/sports/nfl/san-francisco-49
SAN DIEGO (AP) - The San Diego Chargers know how lucky they are to have Philip Rivers as their quarterback.
Otherwise, they almost certainly would have lost at San Francisco on Saturday night and been eliminated from the playoff chase.
Playing through rib and back injuries, Rivers brought back the Chargers from a brutal first-half performance to lead a rally that resulted in a 38-35 overtime victory.
If the Chargers (9-6) win at Kansas City on Sunday, they're in the playoffs.
Rivers overcame three interceptions and a 21-point halftime deficit to finish with 356 yards passing and four touchdown passes.
''It says a lot about him,'' coach Mike McCoy said Monday. ''A lot of other teams, not just the quarterback, would have folded the way they played the first half. Philip's one of the fiercest competitors and toughest competitors I've ever been around.''
Rivers threw three touchdown passes in the second half, including an 11-yarder to Malcom Floyd with 29 seconds left that tied the game at 35. Nick Novak won it with a 40-yard field goal in overtime.
"As long as we have time on the clock and we've got Philip Rivers, we've got a chance to win,'' McCoy said.
The Chargers still won't say how severe Rivers' injuries are. He's reportedly battling a bulging disc in his back.
Rivers sat out practice twice last week and could be rested again at some point this week.
''We'll do what's in the best interest of Philip Rivers and our organization,'' said McCoy, who hates talking about injuries.
''Philip's as tough as there is in the business. Philip will play on Sunday,'' the coach said.
The Chargers were off Monday. They practice Tuesday and Wednesday before talking off Thursday for Christmas and practicing again on Friday.
Rivers' teammates are impressed with what he's done.
''For him to do what he does on a daily basis, for him to be as sharp, not only physically but mentally, and to be able to command our offense and take control of our team is truly remarkable,'' linebacker Manti Te'o said. `'He's one of the best to be playing the game and I've said many times, we're very fortunate to have him on our team.''
McCoy said the Chargers' play in the first half was ''pathetic,'' and he also described it as being ''a nightmare'' and ''a disaster.''
The Chargers allowed 182 yards rushing in the first half and Rivers had an interception returned for a touchdown.