Antonio Gates a non-factor in Chargers' loss to Patriots
For the first time since 2008 -- a stretch of 34 games -- the star tight end was held without a catch in the Chargers' 35-21 loss to the Patriots.
"They would put a corner or safety on me, or two safeties," said Gates, who had eight catches for 74 yards in a 24-17 win over Minnesota the previous week. "They did a lot of different things to take me out of the game."
Gates has 537 receptions for 7,079 yards in nine NFL seasons, all with the Chargers. His 69 career touchdowns are second all-time for the Chargers and his 89 receptions in 2005 are tied for third-best in a single season in team history.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw Gates' way only twice Sunday. One of those passes was intercepted by Sergio Brown to end a San Diego drive that had reached the New England red zone with San Diego trailing, 20-7, early in the third quarter.
The other was a deep pass that drew an interference call on Brown, setting up a three-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson to help the Chargers pull to within 20-14 early in the fourth quarter.
“We just hit him,” Brown said of Gates. “Hit him as much as we could and don't let him get started because as he builds — as he gets up the field — he runs better routes. So we tried to get him close to the line of scrimmage and stopped him before we get going.”
The double-teams on Gates opened things up for Jackson, who had 15 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Rivers finished with 378 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but he and the Chargers could not keep up with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who passed for 423 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
-- Chuck Schilken
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Photo: New England Patriots defensive back Sergio Brown is called for pass interference against San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates. Credit: David Butler II / US Presswire