Why Broncos fans love to hate Philip Rivers

Oct 30, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) attempts a fourth down pass in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Chargers 27-19. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Philip Rivers is easily one of the most hateable players in the AFC West.

His smug grin on the sidelines after completing a touchdown, and constant berating of officials, makes him an easy villain. But the toughest pill for opposing fans to swallow is how impressive the veteran quarterback is on the field.

Since taking over as the full-time starter in 2006, Rivers has led the Chargers to 113 victories and he has 52,807 career passing yards. Of the players that have at least 1,500 pass attempts in their careers, Rivers’ completion rate of 64.4 percent ranks ninth all-time, higher than Steve Young (No. 10), Tom Brady (No. 13) and Joe Montana (No. 15).

The Denver Broncos have an especially interesting rivalry with Rivers that goes back to the Jay Cutler era. In 2007, the then-San Diego Chargers handed Denver its worst home loss since 1966, defeating the Broncos by 38 points on Oct. 7.

The rivalry intensified two months later when the Chargers beat down the Broncos in a primetime matchup on Christmas Eve. In the 23-3 victory for San Diego, Cutler was sacked four times and was responsible for three turnovers. The only thing that Broncos fans remember about this game was when Rivers got caught mocking Cutler on camera in the fourth quarter, though.

The Cutler-Rivers saga continued in September of 2008 with one of the craziest finishes in Broncos history. Down by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Cutler led the Denver offense to the one-yard line, but appeared to fumble the football on second down.

Luckily for Cutler, game official Ed Hochuli thought it was an incomplete pass and prematurely blew the play dead. Because the play was ruled over before the Chargers recovered the football, possession could not change teams with instant replay.

Two plays later, Cutler connected with Eddie Royal for a 4-yard touchdown to make the score 38-37, and the Denver duo followed it up with a successful 2-point conversion for the win.

Over the last decade, there have been plenty of other memorable moments between the Broncos and Chargers, like absurd comebacks and playoff matchups between the two teams. The consistent competition has reinforced why Broncos fans dislike Rivers, but it is clear that there is mutual respect amongst competitors.

Rivers has said on multiple occasions that Denver is one of his favorite places to play and more than one member of the Broncos defense told reporters that they enjoy lining up against No. 17 this week.

“I just love his competitive spirit,” said Broncos nose tackle Domata Peko.

Chris Harris added that Rivers does whine a lot, but that he would be okay with it as a teammate because it is just part of his competitive drive.

“We want to beat him and you know he wants to beat you bad,” Harris said. “He’s probably drawing up something to fool me right now, just to get me. I’ve got to be ready for anything.”

Denver (3-6) faces Los Angeles (7-2) today at 2:05 p.m. MST. The Chargers are currently red-hot, after winning six games in a row.

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