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Gates excels in red zone

Posted Dec 11, 2011

Tight end Antonio Gates caught two touchdowns against the Bills on Sunday, giving him six in the last eight games. Gates reached a couple more milestones during the win.

SAN DIEGO – Tight end Antonio Gates caught two touchdowns Sunday in a 37-10 win against the Buffalo Bills.

His seven receptions included scores of nine and two yards making him the 27th player in NFL history with 75 receiving touchdowns.

“I’m happy for him as a teammate because I see he’s been able to do it for so long at such a high level,” Randy McMichael said. “As my friend I’m proud of him because I’ve seen him go through so much the past few years missing games with injuries, and he kept fighting back.” 

Gates has scored six touchdowns in his last eight games racking up 527 yards on 45 receptions since returning to the starting lineup Week 7 from a foot injury.

“He’s the focal point of our offense in the red zone and the one thing about him is that he’s just knows how to get open,” McMichael said. “There are not too many people that are going to guard him 1-on-1 down in the red zone.”

The five-time Pro Bowl tight end who’s spent his entire nine-year career in a Chargers uniform also took over fourth all-time in total yards from scrimmage, surpassing ring of honor inductee and receiver Gary Garrison.

“He’s a great player,” receiver Vincent Jackson said. “It’s great to play with a player like that and I’m sure down the road when he’s a Hall of Fame guy I’ll be able to tell my grandkids that I played with that guy.”

Bolts quarterback Philip Rivers began the game completing nine consecutive passes. Gates caught five of those.

“It’s been eight or nine weeks since he’s been able to get back going and I think each week he’s able to add another week of practice and rest and the better he feels,” Rivers said. “He’s playing at a super high level, as he always has but certainly he’s been going really good here in these last couple of weeks.”
All six of Gates’ touchdowns this season have come inside of 20 yards.

“With his ability, his skills and the threat that he presents, it opens everybody up,” Nick Hardwick said of Gates, his teammate of eight seasons. “You really have to choose your poison down there and he’s a huge threat in the red zone, he’s a mismatch size and speed wise for the linebackers, and that’s why he’s the best in the game.”

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