With loss to Raiders, is Chargers QB Philip Rivers' Super Bowl window officially closed?

Philip Rivers has had a very good career. He went to eight Pro Bowls. He’s in the all-time top 10 for passing yards, touchdowns and passer rating.

And it seems like the one big hole in his resume will never be filled.

The Los Angeles Chargers are 4-6 after a crushing 26-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders, who improved to 5-5. Not that a win on Thursday night would have put the Chargers back in the Super Bowl conversation, but it felt like the loss ended their season.

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The Chargers didn’t hold a lead until Austin Ekeler’s touchdown reception from Rivers with less than five minutes remaining, but after that the defense gave up a long drive capped by Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs’ 18-yard touchdown with 1:02 left. When Rivers got the ball back, a defensive penalty on fourth down — there were endless penalties on Thursday night — kept the Chargers’ drive alive. But Rivers threw three more incompletions and then a fourth-down interception to safety Karl Joseph. Rivers’ first seven passes on the final drive hit the ground, and the eighth was picked off.

Rivers, who turns 38 on Dec. 8, has played a role in the Chargers’ disappointing season. He looked old early in Thursday night’s game, and then again at the end. His passes early on were sailing everywhere. Two were picked off by Raiders safety Erik Harris. One was returned for a touchdown. Against one of the worst pass defenses in football, Rivers didn’t pass the 100-yard mark until late in the third quarter.

The Chargers will still have plenty of blue-chip talent next season. Tom Brady, Drew Brees and others have shown that quarterbacks can be successful past their 40th birthday. Still, it seems like the chances of Rivers finally getting to a Super Bowl are drying up fast.

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Philip Rivers through the years
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Philip Rivers through the years
Photographers surround Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) as he leaves the field after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 33-30 in an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Quarterback Philip Rivers holds up his San Diego Chargers jersey at a news conference at the Chargers' facility in San Diego Sunday, April 25, 2004. The Chargers traded No. 1 draft pick Eli Manning to the New York Giants for Rivers and future draft picks. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
San Diego Chargers rookie quarterback Philip Rivers, making his first appearance of the preseason, fires a pass to Kevin Dyson for a 19-yard gain in the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks on Friday, Aug. 27, 2004, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers stretches at the close of football practice at the Chargers' training camp Wednesday July 26, 2006 in San Diego. Rivers, who the Chargers are hoping will emerge as their replacement for Drew Brees, did not participate in the one-on-one drills in the afternoon practice. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
San Diego Chargers' quarterbacks Philip Rivers (17) and Charlie Whitehurst (6) joke during the fourth quarter of their NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders on Monday, Sept. 11, 2006 in Oakland, Calif. The Chargers won 27-0. (AP Photo/Benjamin Sklar)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throws against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of their NFL football game in San Diego, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2006. (AP Photo/Jack Smith)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers calls out at the line of scrimmage during a football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2006. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers pleads for official Jeff Lamberth (103) to check the stadium replay as he argues to get his goal-line fumble reversed during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in San Diego, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2007. The Bears recovered the fumble and the original ruling stood. San Diego won 14-3. (AP Photo/Jack Smith)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) gets up slowly after being hit by the Tennessee Titans in the second quarter of an NFL football game in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2007. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
San Diego Charger quarterback Philip Rivers celebrates after a fourth-quarter touchdown during an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008 in San Diego. The Chargers won 52-21. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) acknowledges teammates after a third-quarter touchdown against the New York Giants during an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Chargers won 21-20. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) passes to wide receiver Malcom Floyd, not seen, in the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009, in Cleveland. Rivers passed for 373 yards and two touchdowns in the Chargers' 30-23 win. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers celebrates a 52-yard yard game winning field goal giving the Chargers a 27-24 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in an NFL football game Sunday Dec. 20, 2009 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, left, throws under pressure from Jacksonville Jaguars Derrick Harvey during the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010. The Chargers won 38-13. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) loses the football when he is hit by Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (96) during the second quarter of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 5, 2011, in Jacksonville, Fla. The pass was ruled incomplete. (AP Photo/Stephen Morton)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) is embraced by teammate Malcom Floyd after an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011, in San Diego. The Chargers won 37-10. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) and wide receiver Danario Alexander (84) celebrate after Alexander caught a pass from Rivers for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Pittsburgh. The Chargers won 34-24. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, right, throws under pressure from Houston Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, center, grimaces as he is caught between Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Jason Babin, left, and defensive end Andre Branch (90) after throwing a pass in the first half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013.(AP Photo/Stephen Morton)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers celebrates after the Chargers made the playoffs with a 27-24 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi )
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) kneels on the field after the Chargers defeated the Oakland Raiders 31-28 in an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers reacts after wide receiver Eddie Royal scored a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Baltimore. San Diego won 34-33. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers reacts after throwing a inception against the Denver Broncos during the first half in an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford (55) pats San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) on the helmet after sacking him during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015. The Chiefs won 10-3. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers yells to referee after not getting a call during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Aaron Josefczyk)
FILE - In a Sunday Dec. 11, 2016 file photo, San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers (17) looks to pass against the Carolina Panthers in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C. It could be a remarkable scene Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016 when the Oakland Raiders, closing in on their first playoff berth since their Super Bowl season of 2002, face a fading Chargers franchise that could be in the death throes of its 56-season run in San Diego.(AP Photo/Bob Leverone, File)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throws a pass to wide receiver Tyrell Williams for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers smiles on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong )
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) calls signals as he plays against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The Chargers beat the Steelers 33-30. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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Chargers haven’t gone to Super Bowl with Philip Rivers

The failure of the Chargers to get to a Super Bowl with Rivers isn’t all Rivers’ fault. Having to be in the same conference as the New England Patriots didn’t help, much like being in the Eastern Conference during Michael Jordan’s career. Rivers didn’t ask to leave San Diego to a city in which his team never has a home-field advantage because nobody in Los Angeles cares. That was thanks to a horrendous decision by the Spanos family and NFL. And no one player ever wins or loses a single football game. Rivers wasn’t the one who was letting the Patriots go up and down the field at will in last season’s playoffs. Even on Thursday, his patchwork offensive line was giving up constant pressure.

But that doesn’t matter to most people. If quarterbacks don’t win rings, they’re considered inferior. It’s not fair but it’s not changing. And it looks like Rivers isn’t going to get a ring. With just one ring, he’d probably be a lock for the Hall of Fame.

The Chargers are in a bad place as a franchise. Owner Dean Spanos had to vehemently deny a rumor the team might move to London. That rumor is believable because the team’s situation in Los Angeles is ridiculous. The Chargers are the first team to relocate to a city that didn’t want it. The Chargers moved because Spanos didn’t get his way on public funding for a new stadium. Now the Chargers are going to be a tenant in the Rams’ new stadium, and they’re the only NFL team without an appreciable fan base.

On top of all that, the Chargers’ star quarterback looks like he’s deep into the back nine of his career, with no quarterback of the future on the roster.

Chargers give away another game

Thursday night was another sloppy game for the Chargers. There were too many penalties, though the officiating crew seemed to be getting paid by the flag. The early turnovers were brutal. It was a close game, and the Chargers could have easily won it. They out-played the Raiders in most areas. They just weren’t good enough to overcome all the mistakes. And their quarterback couldn’t carry them over the finish line.

Rivers had a shot at the end, and looked like he had no gas left in the tank. His throws were way off the mark. The interception to Joseph was desperately floated up in the air.

The Chargers will fade away for the rest of this season. It’s unlikely they’ll be relevant again unless they win out. And it looks like another wasted year for their quarterback.

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