INDIANAPOLIS — As most players get into the twilight of their career and start knocking on the door of some pretty significant milestones, they'll usually say they prefer waiting until after their playing days are over before they can really appreciate what they've accomplished.
But even Philip Rivers couldn't ignore the historical significance heading into Sunday's Week 3 matchup against the New York Jets at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Rivers, who played the first 16 seasons of his illustrious career with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, entered the game on the precipice of three major individual milestones: he needed one passing touchdown and 152 passing yards to become the sixth player in NFL history to reach 400 passing touchdowns and 60,000 passing yards, respectively, and he needed to complete five passes to move past Dan Marino into fifth place all-time in passing completions.
Rivers just decided to knock all three out in the second quarter.
His 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mo Alie-Cox earned him his 400th career passing touchdown; his 45-yard connection with Alie-Cox later in the quarter moved him into fifth place in NFL history in passing completions; and his 11-yard completion over the middle to running back Nyheim Hines with 19 seconds to go until halftime moved him past the 60,000 passing yards plateau.
Rivers joined the likes of Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Marino as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to reach 400 passing touchdowns and 60,000 passing yards. Not bad company.
Oh, and if that wasn't enough, by virtue of the Colts' 36-7 victory over the Jets, Rivers on Sunday passed Fran Tarkenton (124) for the eighth-most wins as a starting quarterback in NFL history, and he also passed Terrell Suggs (226) for the 11th-most games started in NFL history.
"The milestones are meaningful. I could sit here and tell you they don't matter and I don't care about them, but they are meaningful," Rivers told reporters after Sunday's 36-7 victory over the Jets. "I've dreamed of playing quarterback in this league since I was a little kid and some of those guys are far, far away on that list in both yardage and touchdowns. But some of those guys are guys I grew up loving. I was fans of (them), posters on the wall; some of them I have been able to compete against. It certainly is special."
Rivers, as he's always known to do, also made it a point to acknowledge his teammates, without whom he wouldn't be climbing any of these all-time statistical lists.
"There's always been a guy on the receiving end of all of those passes and there's always been five guys or more with backs and tight ends blocking like crazy until I need to throw them," Rivers said. "All of the guys have been a part of those, and I know those other quarterbacks who have thrown for a bunch of yards and touchdowns would say the same. They're a part of them too. They certainly take pride in some of those as well because it's a team effort every last one of them."
So what's next on Rivers' list of major milestones?
• With 18 passes completed, he will reach 5,000 career passes completed. He would become just the fifth player in NFL history to reach that plateau, joining Brees, Brady, Favre and Peyton Manning.
• With two games with 400+ passing yards, he will pass Ben Roethlisberger (12) and tie Marino (13) for the fourth-most games with 400+ passing yards in NFL history.
• With five games with three-or-more touchdown passes, he will pass Marino (62) and tie Aaron Rodgers (63) for the fifth-most games of three-or-more touchdown passes in NFL history
• With eight games started, he will pass Eli Manning (234) and tie Charles Woodson (235) for the ninth-most games started in NFL history.
• With 1,280 passing yards, he will pass Marino (61,361) for the fifth-most passing yards in NFL history.
• With 317 passes attempted, he will reach 8,000 career passes attempted. He would become just the seventh player in NFL history to reach that plateau, joining Favre, Brees, Brady, Peyton Manning, Marino and Eli Manning.
• With at least 20 touchdown passes this season, he will tie Favre (15 seasons) for the fourth-most such seasons in NFL history.
• With 21 touchdown passes, he will pass Marino (420) for the fifth-most touchdown passes in NFL history.