Records nice, winning paramount

The San Diego Chargers have been crushing team records and making an assault on league records throughout the year. From LaDainian Tomlinson becoming the top rusher in team history to Antonio Gates tying the NFL record for touchdowns by a tight end, they have accomplished it all – but the playoffs loom and the team remains the top priority.

After the game, Browns' reporters assaulted former Kent State star Antonio Gates to talk to the player they missed out on. Cleveland and San Diego were two of the four teams to attend his workout at Kent State back in 2003 and only the two aforementioned teams were considered serious bidders, despite false reports of 16 teams entering the bidding.

Need proof? There was only one media outlet in the entire nation that attended the workout and reporter David Carducci represented for us.

Antonio Gates has gone from unknown as a rookie to Pro Bowl quality as a second year receiver. Sure he has only caught five passes in the past three weeks but his 72-yard touchdown reception on Sunday was the biggest of his career and a huge catch for the San Diego Chargers.

Gates had lined up in the backfield. At the snap of the ball, he released down the sideline and found himself uncovered as Justin Peelle ran a crossing route and drew two Cleveland defenders his way. Kassim Osgood ran a short out route which brought one defender up towards him in the flat. Drew Brees looked off the safety (although no one actually saw Gates on the sidelines anyway) and delivered him the ball near sidelines, about twenty yards downfield and Gates tiptoed the sideline and showed an explosive step on the snow covered ground to take it the distance.

Punctuation mark, tying the NFL record for most touchdown receptions by a tight end with 12.

Brent Jones said it best on the television broadcast, "Holy cow. You may want to cover the best tight end in the National Football League. There is an idea."

"Obviously, it was a chance for me to play in front of my friends and family," Gates glistened after the win. "I play a big role in this offense. We came out, executed, and got the win."

His big role on Sunday consisted of two passes thrown his way and six passes total on the day from Brees. The touchdown put the Chargers up by 14 points and allowed the Chargers to run the rest of the way in conditions that were not friendly to the passing game.

"We got that big play to Gates," Brees said. "I was glad because that gave us a 14-point lead. Our defense was playing well and we could stick to our running game, which was pound it, pound it, pound it. We won the old fashioned way."

One play defined how good Gates has become. Tying Wesley Walls (1999), Todd Christensen (1983), Jerry Smith (1967) and Mike Ditka (1961) along the way with two games to go is what the Browns missed out on.

Gates remains humble about the record. Personal records aren't what the NFL is all about. Even Peyton Manning, destined to beat the touchdown mark for quarterbacks, prefers wins to records.

"If individual goals come, fine, but this is a team," Gates said. "All we care about is winning games. The goal is to go to the Super Bowl and win it."

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