Chiefs Defense Closes The Gates

From Arrowhead Stadium

Antonio Gates has been a thorn in the side of the Chiefs defense for as long as Derrick Johnson can remember.

“He’s just good; it’s hard to cover him and he’s hard to control and their guy (QB Philip Rivers) is always looking for him,” Johnson said.

Gates has caught more passes (77) and more touchdown passes (12) against the Chiefs than any other opponent. Those catches produced 952 yards, the most he’s racked up against any opponent in his career.

Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has worked to stop Gates many times over the years as a defensive coordinator and a head coach. He told his players there was one thing that had to happen on every play.

“That’s what Coach RAC (Crennel) stressed all week – we had to get up on the line and challenge him,” said FS Kendrick Lewis, who had an interception and a fumble recovery in the game. “We were pressing him, giving him different looks. One person on him one time, then we would double him, then we would let our rushers jam him.

“It was all just to get him off-balance and show him a different look all day. We knew he was the main guy in the offense.”

Gates caught four passes for 73 yards. Those plays went for 6, 16, 24 and 27 yards. But, he caught his last pass in the game with 6 minutes, 30 seconds left to play in the third quarter.

The Chiefs defense was able to shut him out in the fourth quarter and overtime.

“The plan was to try and take Gates away from them,” said SS Jon McGraw, who spent a great deal of time in coverage on the San Diego tight end. “We structured all of our defenses so we could get hands on him and slow him down. We didn’t want him to beat us.

“He still made some plays; he’s obviously a tremendous player. But I think that helped us.”

Gates had a touchdown pass wiped off the boards when he was called for offensive pass interference for pushing off on McGraw. At least that’s what the officials said.

“He made contact, but he really didn’t push me,” McGraw said. “I wasn’t going to complain because we don’t get those calls very often, so when we do, nobody is going to give that one up.”

Overall, the guy in the Chargers passing game that caused the Chiefs defense the most problems was not Gates, or WR Vincent Jackson (3 catches for 49 yards). It was WR Malcom Floyd, who grabbed five passes for 107 yards, including the longest offensive play of the game for the Chargers.

“You can’t put extra attention on everybody,” said CB Brandon Flowers. “If you start leaning towards one guy or another, something else is going to pop open. You just have to make sure you keep it under control as much as possible.”

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