INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers joined elite company during Sunday's 36-7 win against the New York Jets, becoming the sixth quarterback in NFL history to throw 400 career touchdown passes and top 60,000 passing yards for a career.
"The milestones are meaningful. I'm not going to sit here and tell you they don't matter. I do care about them," said Rivers, who already had received a number of text messages about his feat. "They are meaningful. I dreamed of playing quarterback in this league since I was a little kid."
Rivers reached the career touchdown mark on the second play of the second quarter, when he completed a 1-yard pass to tight end Mo Alie-Cox. He joined Drew Brees (550), Tom Brady (544), Peyton Manning (539), Brett Favre (508) and Dan Marino (420) as the only quarterbacks to reach 400 TDs.
Favre and Marino are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Manning will be a first-ballot inductee in 2021, while Brees and Brady are also expected to be first-ballot picks once they retire.
Rivers threw the first 397 touchdown passes of his career during his 16 seasons with the Chargers. He threw at least 30 touchdown passes in six of those seasons.
He joined that same group of quarterbacks with at least 60,000 yards passing in the second half of a game the Colts never were really threatened in after the first quarter.
"There are still guys who are far, far and away on that list in yards and touchdowns," Rivers said. "Some of those guys when I grew up I was fans of, posters on the wall. Some of them I've been able to compete against. Certainly is special. Certainly thankful. There's always been a guy on the receiving ends of those passes. Always been five guys, backs and tight ends blocking like crazy to allow you to throw. All the guys have been a part of those."
Nobody knew what to expect from Rivers when the Colts signed him, at age 38, to a one-year, $25 million contract to replace Jacoby Brissett as the starter. He was coming off a 2019 season in which he committed 23 turnovers, including 20 interceptions.
But Colts coach Frank Reich had belief in Rivers after the two spent three seasons together with the Chargers. Reich has been on staff with Rivers for 95 of his 400 touchdown passes.
"We felt this (belief) from the start, in the offseason when (general manager) Chris (Ballard) and I were talking about bringing Philip here," Reich said. "The opportunity to bring him here, it was a very unique situation. We talked through that, and having been with the guy, I know what kind of guy he is, know the type of teammate he is, type of leader he is and he's an elite quarterback. He's so accurate, so smart, so tough and has a knack for making plays. So not surprised. He's made a lot of coaches look good with the way he plays. I'm sure glad he's a Colt. I'm just excited at how he's leading our offense, how he leads our team."
Rivers hasn't been flawless (two interceptions in a Week 1 loss at Jacksonville Jaguars), but Sunday was the type of performance the Colts expected out of him. He was an efficient 17-of-21 for 217 yards and the one touchdown. Indianapolis didn't need Rivers to lead the way because the defense accounted for 16 of its 36 points.
The Colts dominated the Jets so much that Rivers had a towel draped over his right shoulder on the sideline, as Brissett took over for the final nine minutes of the game.
"Philip played unreal football (Sunday)," Reich said. "I really think he's played good football for three games besides one or two mistakes. So accurate with the football, so many good decisions. The knack to make big plays to be able to hang in the pocket."