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Chargers' Philip Rivers is Comeback Player of the Year

NEW YORK -- San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was announced as the 2013 Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year at Saturday's "NFL Honors."

Due to the nebulous nature of the award, it's tough to question the selection.

If coming back from poor play and a lack of surrounding talent was placed on an even plane with returning from an injury (Fred Jackson, Darrelle Revis, Brent Grimes), a benching (Alex Smith) or obscurity (Knowshon Moreno), then Rivers is the easy choice.

Since running back Ryan Mathews and tight end Antonio Gates also enjoyed fine bounce-back seasons, the award also can be viewed as a tribute to the entire Chargers offense under new coach Mike McCoy and coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

Playing behind a patchwork offensive line in a system which had grown stale, Rivers authored a whopping 47 turnovers while taking 79 sacks from 2011 to 2012. Whisenhunt boldly predicted in May that his quarterback would return to Pro Bowl form, and that's exactly what happened during a career renaissance.

In his estimable Quarterback Index series, Gregg Rosenthal has ranked Rivers among the NFL's top three quarterbacks since September.

Essentially Peyton Manning Lite, Rivers diagnosed the defense's intentions before the snap, torched blitzes and tossed accurate passes all over the field in an offense that was suddenly fun to watch again.

Rivers entered the 2013 season in prove-it mode, at the crossroads of his Chargers career. He finished it by reclaiming his status as one of the top half-dozen quarterbacks in the league.

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