Thus, it’s fitting that both Rivers and Gates achieved significant milestones in the Chargers 30-21 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
With 10 catches, Gates passed Ozzie Newsome for fourth all-time in receptions by a tight end. Meanwhile, Rivers set an NFL record for completion percentage (83%) for a quarterback who also threw for over 400 yards (401). Rivers also recorded his 200th career touchdown pass on his third score of the day. Fittingly, it went to his tight end on a 56-yard backbreaking bomb.
While it was a landmark day for Rivers, he is quick to point out the contributions of his teammates which has allowed him to achieve such records. But he also pointed out that having his 200th career TD pass go to number 85 was extra meaningful.
“It’s special,” Rivers said following the game. “All those marks there that you achieve, they’re team achievements. Obviously it takes a lot of guys to throw a touchdown pass. A lot of guys playing and doing their job. But it is certainly special throwing to him. There’s been a lot of them to him. That was obviously a huge play in the game.”
Gates has a strong appreciation for his quarterback and all that he has accomplished in his career.
“I think when you sum it all up, from an individual standpoint, the sky’s the limit on what he can do and what he can accomplish,” he said. “You satisfy it when you can get away with a win. I think that’s when you can embrace scoring a touchdown and you go into the next week saying, ‘Wow that was pretty spectacular.’”
Also spectacular was the 10 catch, 136-yard performance Gates had on the day. According to Rivers, his tight end’s role in the offense is a
“When we’re in that no-huddle mode and we really feel like we’ve got it going, and we feel like we’re the aggressors, it’s just taking the completion,” he said. “It’s take them, take them, take them. And that’s what we did. And then every now and then you get (the big play). The other big gain he had up the seam was the same play that he scored on. So there’s two chunk plays on the same play. But he was awesome.”
Last week, Gates surpassed Lance Alworth for second place in franchise history for total touchdowns. This week it was passing Ozzie Newsome on the all-time receptions list. While Gates is cognizant of the milestones he’s achieving, in the moment, he’s solely focused on helping the team win. There will be plenty of time in the future to reflect back upon the records he’s setting.
“Those things, you’re aware of them at times,” he said. “I keep harping on the same things that when you’re talking about guys of that status, being mentioned among the elite, it’s definitely an honor. But I think when you’re in the moment; it doesn’t really sink in until you’re done playing. Like today, I had no expectations on catching 10 passes or any idea how many passes away I was from Ozzie Newsome. You just go out and play as hard as you can like every game is your last game. When it’s all said and done, hopefully you can pass some milestones.”