But the future Hall of Fame closer was hurting, and he had been for quite a while. Rivera revealed that he pitched the entire Fall Classic hiding a painful rib-cage injury, leaning on head trainer Gene Monahan to keep his clubhouse secret.
"It doesn't matter now," Rivera said. "It's over. Thank God it's over. It was manageable. 'Geno' did a tremendous job. Thank God we were able to do what we did, to put me on the field every day so I would have a chance."
Rivera said that the injury was an unwelcome souvenir from the Yankees' American League Championship Series victory over the Angels, when the 39-year-old closer threw 34 pitches to lock down a two-inning save in the clinching Game 6.
"That happened in the series against Anaheim," Rivera said. "We had to go through it. What can you do?"
Even Yankees manager Joe Girardi might not have been aware of it then. He thought Rivera suffered the injury in Game 2 of the World Series, when Rivera threw 39 pitches to secure a two-inning save against the Phillies at Yankee Stadium.
"He was a little sore back there," Girardi said. "It happened the first time he went two innings in the World Series. That was when he first felt it. He had a day off and we checked him. We figured we'd only use him an inning. He said it was fine, but it was something that we had to watch."
Rivera was dominant this postseason, appearing in 12 games and hurling 16 innings to finish nine games. He scattered 10 hits, allowing one run for a 0.56 ERA, and walked five while striking out 14.
Yet the Yankees might have been without their greatest weapon had the Phillies forced a deciding Game 7.
"He had thrown  pitches," Girardi said, referring to Wednesday's clincher. "It would have been kind of tough. It was really important that we closed it out in Game 6."
Shrugged Rivera: "I don't want to talk about it, because there wasn't a Game 7."
Joba Chamberlain said that Rivera's example of taking the ball, even at less than full strength, set an excellent example for the rest of the bullpen.
"We don't say anything," Chamberlain said. "We always go out and pitch and do what we can. He did what we needed him to do."
After the Yankees celebrated the World Series, Rivera piped up in a television interview that he wanted to pitch another five years. It was a comment that Rivera had no reason to back away from after the Yankees' parade down the Canyon of Heroes.
"I believe him," Girardi said. "If you had a year that he had, you would too. Keep pitching the way you are, Mo. You make our lives real easy."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.