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Antonio Gates Becomes Franchise's TD Reception Leader

Posted Dec 23, 2012

Antonio Gates caught his franchise record 82nd touchdown pass in the third quarter.

The record is his.

A week after tying Lance Alworth’s franchise record for touchdown receptions, tight end Antonio Gates caught his 82nd career touchdown to put himself in sole possession atop the list and cement his place as one of the best pass catchers in Chargers history.

The historic touchdown came with less than two minutes left in the third quarter. Quarterback Philip Rivers connected with Gates over the middle and Gates did the rest, running it in 34 yards for the touchdown.

Photo Gallery: Gates' History of TD's | Chargers vs. Jets | More Photos

Gates, who is already the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions, began his career in 2003 as an undrafted free agent after not playing football in college. The former Kent State basketball player was the NFL’s only player with at least eight touchdown receptions from 2004 to 2010. After Sunday’s performance, he also has nine consecutive seasons with at least 500 yards receiving. He has been voted to the Pro Bowl eight times, is a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team (2000-09) and will undoubtedly find himself in the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton one day.

“It means a lot.” Gates said. “Just the first thing that comes to mind is being mentioned with a guy like Lance Alworth and how important it was for my teammates to give me an opportunity, and this organization give me an opportunity, to accomplish something of that nature. I can’t say enough about how many times my teammates have trusted me, believed in me and fortunately, they deserve a little bit of credit just being there on my side the whole step of the way.”

Alworth spent the first nine years of his career with the Chargers, where he averaged more than 50 receptions and 1,000 yards per season. He was the first AFL player named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978 and had his number retired by the Chargers in 2005. He is a part of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time team, the Chargers Hall of Fame and the Chargers 40th and 50th Anniversary teams.

“I think, when I first got here, I just wanted to epitomize what it was to be a professional athlete,” Gates said. “The hard work and the dedication and what it means to be prepared and continue to work hard every single year. With that being said, to accomplish records and doing things from an individual standpoint never really crossed my mind honestly. To actually do this and accomplish something of this nature and do it with a win, there’s no better feeling.”

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