The Pittsburgh Steelers are deep in preparations, even on Christmas Day, to face the Indianapolis Colts. It is also perhaps the final meeting between two great quarterbacks in Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers, both of whom were early selections in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft.
While both quarterbacks have gone on to have very productive careers, and rank in the top 10 all-time in most notable passing statistics, they are both approaching 40 years old, and not many players have it in them to continue to play at a high level beyond that point. Eli Manning, the first-overall pick of that class, just retired earlier this year.
The Steelers are, of course, used to seeing Rivers on the Los Angeles Chargers—formerly the San Diego Chargers—so they will be getting a look at him in a new environment this year. He has had a generally successful season, on track to throw for over 4000 yards with only nine interceptions, though he would probably like to have more than 22 touchdown passes as well.
But he has his Colts at 10-4 in his first season with the team, and Roethlisberger has his Steelers at 11-3, even after a three-game losing streak. Pittsburgh, however, is in freefall, while Indianapolis is riding the momentum of a three-game winning streak.
Even through injury, Rivers is still performing well, but Colts head coach Frank Reich recently admitted that his toe injury is still a hindrance, even if it is getting better every week. They have simply been monitoring his practice reps and giving him time off.
“He’s still not 100 percent, but he’s getting better every week”, he said on SiriusXM. “Still not practicing on Wednesdays, but at this stage in the season and his career, we’re good with that. Sometimes the rest is good for him in that way. But he’s such a tough competitor. It was a significant toe injury, as anybody who’s had that, and the degree was pretty severe. The first couple weeks were touch and go. He really fought through it hard. I think we’re at the stage now where he’s feeling much better”.
Frank Reich explains the severity of Philip Rivers toe injury and what his QB has been dealing with the last few games….
“The first couple of weeks were touch and go” @Colts
LISTEN HERE ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/G1dpiyvMAw
— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) December 24, 2020
You’d be hardpressed to find any starter in the league who is 100 percent right now, of course. That is the nature of a sport that is as physical as football is, even for positions that might be more ‘protected’, such as quarterbacks.
Should the defense get all excited about Rivers having a bum toe, though? Of course not. After all, he has put up numbers the last three weeks. He has thrown for over 750 yards and six touchdowns to zero interceptions, averaging over 8.3 yards per attempt, and a quarterback rating of 121.