COSTA MESA, Calif. — Tackled by his teammates upon breaking the NFL record for touchdowns by a tight end, Los Angeles Chargers TE Antonio Gates wanted to avoid one person — longtime quarterback and good friend Philip Rivers.
“I specifically told Philip to stay away from me,” Gates said. “Because Philip is the guy that I’ve been through the battles with for years and years — I know that he can bring the emotions out of me.
“He was the only one I was like, ‘Look — you get away from me! Everybody else come on and congratulate me. But Phil, you stay over there!’ So it was fun. We moved forward. We made a play. We practiced it with repetition. We prepared for this moment. But at the end of the day, we still wanted to get the win.”
Gates’ historic touchdown catch — the 112th of his career to surpass Tony Gonzalez for the tight end record — came in the Chargers’ 19-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
Rivers and Gates have connected on 85 touchdowns during their careers, the most in NFL history for a quarterback-tight end tandem. The duo tied Steve Young and Jerry Rice among all-time NFL quarterback-receiver duos with Gates’ touchdown and now trail only Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison (112).
Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates have connected on 85 touchdowns during their careers, the most in NFL history for a quarterback-tight end tandem. Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
“It’s a lot of touchdowns,” Rivers said. “A lot of years, a lot of tight ends that have played in this league. It’s certainly a special accomplishment for him. I’m just thankful that I could be a part of a lot of them — not all of them but a lot of them. He’s been awesome, awesome for a long time.”
The Chargers dropped to 0-2 for the first time since 2008.
“It was a bittersweet moment,” Gates said. “Obviously, we scored and we were able to move forward in the game, but you still want to get a win for the whole accomplishment. But at the end of the day, my teammates embraced me.”
Since the NFL went to 12 playoff teams in 1990, only 12 percent of teams to start the season 0-2 have gone on to make the playoffs. However, the last time the Chargers started 0-2, in 2008, they finished 8-8 and snuck in as an AFC wild-card team.
Even though it came in a loss, Gates plans to place the ball from the touchdown catch in his trophy case.
“I’m going to keep that ball, that’s for sure, and put it with the rest of the collection that I have,” Gates said. “And fortunately, when my kids get older, they can be able to say this is their dad, and this was what he was able to accomplish when he played the game of football.”
Here are the snap counts for the Chargers’ Week 2 loss against the Dolphins:
OFFENSE (based on 58 snaps)
Quarterback — Rivers 58, Kellen Clemens 0.
Running back — Melvin Gordon 48, Derek Watt 8, Branden Oliver 7.
Wide receiver — Tyrell Williams 52, Keenan Allen 49, Travis Benjamin 39, Dontrelle Inman 13.
Tight end — Hunter Henry 33, Gates 32, Sean McGrath 5
Offensive line — Russell Okung 58, Matt Slauson 58, Spencer Pulley 58, Kenny Wiggins 58, Joe Barksdale 41, Chris Hairston 21.
Offensive analysis — Chargers place-kicker Younghoe Koo’s struggles at the end of games continue a trend for the Chargers. Per ESPN Stats & Information, the Chargers have missed four straight potential game-tying or go-ahead field goals in the fourth quarter dating back to last year. Josh Lambo missed two in Week 16 against the winless Browns. Prior to this stretch, the Chargers had made 16 consecutive game-tying or go-ahead FGs in the fourth quarter or overtime. The team’s last miss before this stretch was Nov 27, 2011, a 48-yard field goal missed by Nick Novak with 12:36 left in regulation. … The Chargers finished 2-of-8 on third down against the Dolphins and are 25 percent on third down for the season, third-worst in the NFL. … After not being targeted in Week 1, tight end Hunter Henry was targeted seven times against the Dolphins, finishing with seven catches for 80 yards.
DEFENSE (based on 68 snaps)
Defensive line — Joey Bosa 51, Melvin Ingram 50, Darius Philon 36, Brandon Mebane 35, Corey Liuget 32, Tenny Palepoi 25, Damion Square 23, Chris McCain 18.
Linebacker — Jatavis Brown 68, Hayes Pullard 42, Kyle Emanuel 12, Korey Toomer 12, Nigel Harris 11.
Secondary — Trevor Williams 68, Tre Boston 68, Casey Hayward 68, Jahleel Addae 66, Desmond King 56, Adrian Phillips 6.
Defensive analysis — LB Jatavis Brown led the Chargers in tackles for a second straight game with 12. Brown leads the NFL with 26 tackles. … While Brown has played well, the Chargers’ tackling issues overall continue. Miami running back Jay Ajayi finished with 122 rushing yards, including 55 yards after initial contact, according to ESPN Stats & Information. … Miami WR Jarvis Landry’s 13 receptions on 15 targets tied his career high and is tied for second-most in Dolphins’ history.