San Diego, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Philip Rivers got the better of Eli Manning once again, tossing three touchdown passes to lead the San Diego Chargers to a much-needed 37-14 victory over Manning's New York Giants at Qualcomm Stadium.
Rivers completed a crisp 21-of-28 attempts for 249 yards without an interception in the one-sided win, which kept San Diego (6-7) a game back of Baltimore and Miami in the race for the final wild card spot in the AFC. Keenan Allen was on the receiving end of two of Rivers' scoring strikes, while Ryan Mathews ran for a touchdown while compiling 103 yards on 29 carries.
"The passion of our football team was there today," said Chargers head coach Mike McCoy. "An outstanding team effort."
Manning, traded for Rivers on the day of the 2004 NFL Draft after originally being chosen by San Diego with the No. 1 overall pick, was intercepted twice while managing 259 yards and a touchdown on 20-of-32 passing against the team he balked at playing for while still a college prospect.
The Chargers have now won all three meetings between the clubs since both quarterbacks entered the league.
Hakeem Nicks amassed 135 yards on five catches for New York (5-8), which was officially eliminated from playoff consideration with the setback.
Manning and Nicks teamed up for a 51-yard gain on the Giants' fifth play from scrimmage, which turned out to be the highlight of a day that went straight downhill from there for Big Blue.
Donald Butler intercepted Manning's next pass and returned it 30 yards to midfield, and Allen blew past Terrell Thomas on a slot route shortly afterward prior to hauling in Rivers' well-thrown deep ball for a 43-yard touchdown near the midway mark of the first quarter.
Rivers remained sharp on San Diego's following series, a 15-play, 76-yard jaunt that initially ended in nothing when Nick Novak pulled a 41-yard field goal attempt wide right. The Giants were called offsides on the kick, however, and Novak split the uprights on the 36-yard re-try to push the lead to 10-0.
After New York's offense again sputtered offensively on the subsequent possession, Rivers went to work once more. The dangerous veteran made good on all six of his passes during an 11-play march that Rivers capped with a short fade to Allen that the rookie pulled down for a 4-yard touchdown and a 17-0 advantage with just under four minutes left in the second quarter.
"I felt more of an urgency," said Rivers afterward. "It was like, '[the defense] is rolling, we better be rolling.' Let's not waste any of these possessions for us to get a two-score lead."
The Chargers tacked onto the margin before the half would end, as linebacker Reggie Walker stripped New York's Andre Brown of the ball on the ensuing drive and Marcus Gilchrist recovered for San Diego on the Giants' 39. Rivers fired two more completions following the turnover, a 23-yard delivery to Antonio Gates and a short toss that Danny Woodhead took six yards into the end zone 24 seconds prior to the break.
New York did begin the second half on a positive note, with Justin Tuck forcing Rivers to fumble on a sack and Cullen Jenkins pouncing on the loose ball at the San Diego 19. Manning later found Victor Cruz for a 5-yard gain on 4th-and-2 to extend the sequence, which culminated in Peyton Hillis' 1-yard plunge that got the Giants on the board.
The Chargers answered by driving down the field for another touchdown, this one a 1-yard burst by Mathews that was set up by a defensive pass interference call on the Giants' Spencer Paysinger on Rivers' long heave for Vincent Brown in the end zone.
New York countered with an 11-play, 86-yard trek, highlighted by a pair of Andre Brown runs totaling 37 yards and culminating in Manning's 5-yard TD connection with Brandon Myers that pulled the Giants within 31-14 early in the fourth quarter.
Rivers quickly squashed any comeback notions, however, by directing a drive that consumed more than 7 1/2 minutes and resulted in Novak's 27-yard field goal with 7:31 to play. The defense then stopped the Giants on downs near midfield, and a series of runs by Mathews positioned Novak for his third field goal of the day, a 43-yarder that closed out the scoring.
The Chargers converted 10-of-15 third-down situations ... Woodhead finished with 94 yards from scrimmage, gaining 52 on four receptions and 42 on seven rushes ... Tuck recorded two sacks after registering four in last week's win at Washington to earn NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors ... San Diego rolled to a 45-23 home win over the Giants with Drew Brees at the controls during Manning's sophomore season of 2005, then edged the Giants by a 21-20 count on the road behind Rivers four years later ... Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram made his season debut, returning from a torn ACL the 2012 first-round pick suffered during OTA's in May.