FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It took only one Pro Bowl experience for Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to get a taste of what it is like to play for legendary New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
It was 2011 in Hawaii, and the AFC team was getting its doors blown off in the annual all-star game. Down 42-7 at halftime, Rivers had already thrown a pair of interceptions. That's when Belichick addressed Rivers and the rest of the AFC team at halftime. It was one of his few interactions over the years with the future Hall of Fame coach.
"I do remember halftime of the Pro Bowl game, we were getting killed. I think it was me, Peyton [Manning] and [Matt] Cassel. And we were getting blown out at halftime and he kind of called us all up and said, 'Hey, we can tackle. I know it's the Pro Bowl and all that, but can we tackle somebody today. Let's go out and see if we can make it a little bit respectable in the second half.'
"And then he looked over to us quarterbacks, and we had all thrown an interception -- thank goodness I wasn't the only one -- and he said, 'It would help if you guys would stop throwing it to the other team.'
"I got a kick out of that because I was standing by Peyton Manning and Cassel and Peyton is, if not my all-time favorite, one of [them]. I was glad I wasn't the only one who had thrown it to the other team. I thought that was pretty good at halftime of the Pro Bowl."
Surely Belichick might have different advice for Rivers on Sunday, when the two will be on the same field in New England in what will be a slightly more intense game. If the Chargers beat Belichick and the Patriots, it would only be the second time since Rivers became the franchise's starting quarterback in 2005. It would also mean a spot in the AFC Championship Game.
New England is trying to reach its eighth straight AFC Championship Game.
Rivers and Belichick met once before in the championship game during the 2007 season. The undefeated Patriots won that game 21-12, as Rivers struggled playing through an ACL tear. The two haven't crossed paths often since.
Even that Pro Bowl was too far back for Belichick to seriously engage several days before their playoff matchup.
"Yeah, that was a long time ago," Belichick said Wednesday. "But he's a smart guy. He's a great guy, good football player, really cares and knows a lot about football. He's an impressive guy to talk to."
What stood out most to Belichick most about Rivers was his competitiveness. It will be on full display this weekend. Rivers conceded he's aware there won't be many of years left for him to win that coveted Super Bowl. This is a prime opportunity.
Unlike that Pro Bowl, Belichick might not mind him throwing it to the other team this weekend.