Two future Hall of Fame tight ends took the field Thursday in Antonio Gates and Jason Witten.
However, it was up-and-coming Hunter Henry who stole the show on Thanksgiving.
The 22-year old caught all five passes thrown his way for 76 yards in front of the entire country. Equally important, it came in front of 75 friends and family members who flocked to AT&T Stadium to catch him in action.
As humble as they come, the significance of the moment was not lost on Henry.
“This was really special,” he said. “I had so many family and friends here, and everybody is watching around the country. To do this, it was pretty special. I have a long way to go, but I’m just trying to earn some respect. I get to play with a Hall of Famer every day (in Gates), and got to see Witten today. He’s still special at his age, and the same with Gates. It’s pretty cool.”
Most of Henry’s damage came in the first half, when he caught four passes for 73 yards. However, it was his lone catch of the second half that proved to be a game-breaker.
After dominating the first 30 minutes of action, the Chargers only had a 3-0 lead. They got the ball to start the second half, stressing the importance of finding pay dirt on the opening drive. The Bolts managed to move the ball down the field before facing a crucial 3rd-and-goal from the three.
Philip Rivers dropped back on the play, looked to his left and right before throwing over the middle to Henry. The 6-5, 233-pounder used his mitts to haul in the pass, giving the Chargers a pivotal two-score advantage.
“There is a lot of repetition (that goes into it), and the play kind of broke down,” Henry said. “So it was a lot on Phil. He makes it easy on me. The line did a good job. It was kind of a scramble drill, but not really. It was cool to be able to score on Thanksgiving Day at this stadium.”
So what went through Henry’s mind after he caught it?
“Shoot, I didn’t know what to do! I hadn’t been in there in a while. I should have had two touchdowns last week. So it was good to get in and good to get our offense going. That was big.”