One became only the fourth tight end in NFL history to record 700 catches and 9,000 receiving yards.
The other scored his first NFL touchdown on a huge 60-yard catch and run.
Gates caught three balls for 21 yards and was particularly impactful on the final series of the game. He caught a 3rd-and-10 to start the drive, and then forced a pass interference penalty that set up the game-winning pass to
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“The first thing we have to do is get a first down to get the drive started, and we’ll go from there,” the veteran lineman said following the game. “We did and the rest was history.”
As they have throughout most of his career, the team marveled at what Gates was able to accomplish by joining lofty company with his milestones.
“That just speaks to his consistency,” said
“He’s the best,” he said. “He’s just the best. His work ethic is inspiring for me as old as I am but also the young guys on the team who look at him and see how it’s supposed to be done. That’s what working and being a professional is all about.”
Perhaps no one was as impressed as Green, whose eyes light up when talking about his mentor, marveling at what he’s accomplished during his career in San Diego.
“He’s amazing,” he said, shaking his head. “What he’s able to do is crazy. Knowing he’s got that many catches and yards, he’s a great player and it’s been an honor to learn from him.”
Green was equally dangerous for the Bolts, finishing with three catches for 80 yards. The highlight needless to say was his 60-yard touchdown. On 3rd-and-2 from the San Diego 40, he caught a short pass over the middle then exploded downfield, running away from defenders. It not only marked his first professional touchdown but was also the longest touchdown by a Chargers’ tight end since 2004.
Rivers has spent many years in awe of the plays Gates has been able to make, and he was equally wowed by the speed and athleticism Green displayed on his score.
“He’s so fast I don’t think people realize it,” he said. “Not many guys can make a catch on 3rd-and-2 and go for 60 yards like that. If he catches it when he’s running, I don’t know if he’ll ever be caught. You just don’t have many 3rd-and-2’s go for 60 yards. Those are game winning plays that we needed today to get the win.”
Green was thrilled about getting into the end zone for the first time, but what made it special to him was how it came in conjunction with Gates’ historic day.
“What was great was that it came on the next play after his 700th catch,” he said. “That is what makes it even better. I’m able to make those plays because he is always getting double teamed. They came down to double team Gates, which led me to be open. He helps me out all the time, so it was a great honor to get in the end zone for him.”