Let's start with Rivers, who, according to our numbers, had the best day of all the quarterbacks in divisional-round games. Throwing for 308 yards and three touchdowns against one tipped interception with the fearsome Pittsburgh pass defense on the other side of the field is nothing to be ashamed of. Rivers was sacked four times, with little thanks going to an offensive line that was simply outmuscled by the Steelers' front seven. Speculation that the Chargers would go as far as Rivers and that their fantastic passing attack would take them there was false. Rivers had a great game, but what happened when he was sipping Gatorade sunk the Chargers.
Against the great Baltimore defense, it seemed obvious that Collins, the game manager who'd taken over for the excitable, inconsistent Vince Young, would subject the Ravens to infinite checkdowns while avoiding the mistakes that his opposite number would make. Instead, Collins attacked the Ravens up and down the field, repeatedly going after cornerback Fabian Washington with deeper throws than anyone expected. Although Collins threw for 281 yards, turnovers killed the Titans' chances, only one of which was Collins' fault. An interception on the Ravens' 32-yard line prevented the Titans from chancing a Rob Bironas field goal.
For Giants fans, the miraculous 2007 playoff run had seen Manning graduate from his previous status as an inconsistent quarterback prone to ill-advised throws and big mistakes. A Super Bowl MVP trophy only added to his reputation as a fearless leader, and when Manning followed the playoffs with an excellent 2008 campaign, the "old Eli" was dead and buried. Then Sunday came. Manning looked uncomfortable in the pocket, sailed several desperate throws and was lucky to end up with two interceptions as opposed to four.
Of course, none of these quarterbacks can compare to Carolina's Delhomme and the whopping six turnovers he had Saturday night. Kurt Warner may have entered the game as the quarterback famed for his ability to give the ball away even as he succeeded, but Delhomme was responsible for a night of almost comically bad quarterbacking.
Believe it or not, Delhomme did not have the worst day a quarterback has ever had in the playoffs. In the 14 years we have used our advanced statistics, Delhomme's performance measures out as the second-worst by a quarterback. Since 1995, the worst single game by a quarterback in the playoffs came from Collins. Playing against the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV, Collins was an appalling 15-of-39 for 112 yards, with four interceptions against zero touchdowns. Although Delhomme made two additional turnovers, he also threw a late touchdown pass, completed 50 percent of his passes and occasionally got the ball downfield. Collins "earned" -294 DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) in that Super Bowl contest, a significantly worse performance than Delhomme's mere -209.
Here are the rest of the best and worst players of the divisional round, according to the Football Outsiders DYAR statistics.
Bill Barnwell is an analyst for FootballOutsiders.com.