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Sun., Jul. 19, 2015 7:30 AM PDT
Tue., Nov. 24, 2015 10:00 AM PST
Gates Ties Touchdown Record in Loss
On a day when not much went right for the San Diego Chargers, history was made early in the fourth quarter.
One first-and-goal from the nine, quarterback Philip Rivers found tight end Antonio Gates in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown, which was Gates’ 81st TD grab as a Charger. The mark tied him with Pro Football Hall of Famer Lance Alworth for first place all-time in franchise history for touchdown receptions.
“To be mentioned in the same category as a guy like Lance, who has obviously paved the way for guys like myself and guys before me, it’s definitely an honor to be in that situation and be among the elites,” said Gates
The veteran, who is also the team’s all-time leader in receptions, began his career with the Chargers in 2003 after not playing football in college. From 2004 to 2010, he was the only player in the NFL with at least eight touchdown catches in each season. He has been selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, is a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team (2000-09) and one of the Chargers’ 50 Greatest Players of All-Time.
Despite tying such an impressive franchise record, Gates could not help but focus on the 31-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers more than the record.
“It’s a tough time,” Gates said. “An individual accomplishment, I hate to get it in this fashion (with) the way we’ve been struggling. But at the same time, I can reflect on so many teammates and coaches that believed in me and my family, with the support they’ve given me over my 10-year career.”
Despite being known as one of the best Chargers of all-time, Gates says he is still learning about past Chargers and some of their accomplishments, including Alworth.
“When I first got here, I didn’t know much about the Chargers,” he said. “Coming all the way from Detroit, I got a chance to learn more about him (Alworth) when I was here. (I) learned about the guys who made a difference in this organization. He is definitely one of them. He’s one of the top two in my opinion. I definitely know he has a mark in this organization that can never be forgotten. Just to be involved in the same situation and mentioned in the same breath with a guy like Lance is definitely an honor in itself.”
Alworth totaled 542 receptions for 10,266 yards and 85 touchdowns in 11 pro seasons, nine with the Chargers and his final two with the Cowboys. In each of his nine seasons with the Chargers, he averaged more than 50 catches and 1,000 yards per season. He was named All-AFL in every season from 1963 to 1969 and played in seven AFL All-Star games. In 1978, he became the first AFL player elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Chargers retired his number in 2005. He is also a part of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time team, the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame, the San Diego Chargers 50th Anniversary Team and the Chargers 40th Anniversary Team.