No. 2: Week 13, 2005
This was back when a basketball player playing tight end was still pretty foreign to the league and teams still had no idea had to handle Gates. The Miami Dolphins sure didn’t in December 2005.
Unfortunately, the Chargers lost this game.
Chasing a playoff spot at 8-4, the Chargers seemed to overlook this Dolphins team, but they didn’t lost the game because of Gates, who caught a career-high 13 passes in this game. He also had 123 yards receiving and a touchdown.
But the Chargers couldn’t overcome a big game from Chis Chambers (who would later play for the Chargers) and three Olindo Mare field goals. The loss sent the team into a tailspin as it would lose three of its final fours games and miss the postseason.
But in terms of receptions, Gates never had more catches in a game than he did on that December day against the Dolphins.
No. 1: Week 7, 2005
Gates caught three touchdowns in a game three times during his career with the last coming against the Seahawks in a game in 2014, which arguably could have been on this list.
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The second time he accomplished the feat was the best game he ever had as he dominated the defense of the Kansas City Chiefs, catching 10 passes for 145 yards and the three scores. The 10 receptions and 145 yards were both career highs to that point. But this game came against a bitter divisional rival.
Gates liked to play the Chiefs as he had some of his best games against them. On this day, he had touchdown receptions from Drew Brees of 19, 20 and 35 yards as the Chargers beat the Chiefs on the day before Halloween in 2005.
Here’s a stat Chargers fans will like. Against the Chiefs during his career, Gates caught 175 passes for 1,431 yards and 17 touchdowns. That would be a good career for a lot of tight ends.