In the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 23-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons,
While Gates was certainly pleased with the milestone, he found it difficult to celebrate such an accomplishment after suffering a loss. A true competitor, Gates is more focused on improving the team than celebrating his recent accomplishment.
“It’s hard (because) I was numb by then,” he said. “It’s hard to enjoy any a milestone when you have such a tragic loss and you don’t play the way you are capable of playing,”
Like the rest of the Chargers, Gates started off slow with just one catch in the first half. It came with 36 seconds remaining in the second quarter, but he recorded his second shortly thereafter in the third. Rivers eventually connected with his tight end for his 600th catch early in the fourth quarter.
While it was a special game for Gates in regards to the fact he set a milestone, in the end he said it was no different than any other game in his career.
“At the end of the day, anything that you establish is just a glimpse of what you have been through,” he said. (”It’s) a glimpse of your teammates and how they always trusted you to make plays.”
Gates is not only a powerhouse on the field but he is highly respected by his teammates and the Chargers coaching staff. Every catch has a team behind it, and Gates recognizes this accomplishment as a team success.
“As a whole I can’t thank enough people who’ve been a part of it, from Phillip all the way down to the coaching staff, for giving me the opportunity to be able to make plays in the game.”
Gates has been a pivotal member of the Chargers offense for ten years because of his ability to see holes and navigate the defense to create plays. Having dealt with injuries over the past few years, Gates is no stranger to the ups and downs of the game. His physical endurance is one that intimidates many defenders and his mental stamina is one that took years to develop.
His NFL career started with the Chargers in 2003 as a rookie free agent. Gates was on the market after spending the majority of his college career playing basketball for Kent State University. He sought out the NFL to make his professional sport aspirations come true after his chances in the NBA did not suffice. Gates footwork sets him apart from other tight ends in the league. He’s a natural basketball player, which contributes to his ability to move strategically on the field and outwork linebackers
Along with 600 career catches, Gates has also accumulated 7,826 yards and 76 touchdowns to date.