Closing Gates Is Key … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

For the last six years, Derrick Johnson has twice a year watched tape and prepared to play Antonio Gates.

Every year it’s the same reaction.

“How does he keep getting open?” Johnson said. “When you think you’ve got him figured out in that offense and what he’s going to be doing and where he’s going to be go, he comes up with something new.”

As long as he can deal with the pain of a foot injury that has limited him in recent weeks, Gates will be a big factor when the Chiefs and Chargers face off or their big AFC West showdown at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday.

“Something would have to be really, really hurting for me not to go,” Gates said earlier this week. “Considering how important this game is and what this mean to our whole season I’d like to say that, speaking in the third person, Antonio Gates will play.”

If Gates does play, he’ll be a factor. Last Sunday playing basically on one league against the Raiders, he caught six passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. He’s always a factor.

“He knows how to find openings in the zone, he knows how to beat man-to-man, he has seen every kind of double coverage known to man and so he knows how to handle those things,” said defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. “To still be able to catch balls with all of that going on says that you have a lot of ability. It says that you have good hands, you have good recognition of what is happening to you on the football field and that makes him good.”

Over his eight-year career, Gates has had some big days catching the football against the Chiefs defense. In 13 games, Gates has caught 73 passes for 879 yards and a dozen touchdown catches. Whether the defense was coordinated by Greg Robinson, Gunther Cunningham, Clancy Pendergast or now Crennel, Gates has been productive when facing the guys with arrowheads on their helmets.

In the first game between these teams back on the opening week, Gates caught five passes for 76 yards, including one for a touchdown and a 34-yard completion.

“I don’t really think he’s the type of guy that you can stop,” said FS Jon McGraw., who over the last four years has had twice-a-year battles with Gates.

Johnson and McGraw say that what makes Gates so difficult to stop and cover is the relationship he has with Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

“Those guys are on the same wavelength,” said Johnson. “I know that he has ability to go either left or right on some of his routes; it depends on what the coverage has done. But the fact that he can do that and they can complete passes is tough to stop.”

Added McGraw: “I don’t know if he’s allowed to free lance, but that’s what it seems to be like. It’s tough trying to cover him running a route where you don’t know where he’s going to be. But when you study the tape and the tendencies and he then breaks it off and does something different, I’m not sure how you stop that.”

Most teams don’t stop Gates. He has ranked for years among the league’s most productive tight ends. He is just 218 yards short of a second-straight 1,000-yard season and he leads the league’s tight ends with 782 yards receiving. A 1,000-yard season in 2010 would be the third of his career.

Last Sunday, Gates caught his 10th touchdown pass of the season, the most among NFL tight ends. He is the only NFL player with at least eight touchdown catches in each of the last seven seasons. With three more TD catches, Gates will tie his own NFL single-season record for touchdown catches by a tight end (13), a mark he currently shares with San Francisco’s Vernon Davis.

He now has 529 career catches and needs just one more to tie RB LaDainian Tomlinson (530) for the third-most in team history. He needs 12 catches to tie Kellen Winslow (541) for second. The leader is former WR Charlie Joiner. He’s second in career TD catches with 69, behind only WR Lance Alworth. And, only Alworth, Joiner and WR Gary Garrison have more than Gates’ 7,005 yards.

For a franchise that has some of the greatest offensive performers in modern football history with players like Tomlinson, Winslow, Joiner, Alworth, Garrison, Hadl, Fouts, Jefferson, Chandler, Lincoln, Muncie and more, Antonio Gates fits right in.

The leading tight end receiver in NFL history is former Chiefs-now Atlanta TE Tony Gonzalez. He’s played 100 more games – more than six seasons worth – than Gates over his career, as Gonzalez has not had the injury problems that Gates has dealt with. Right now, Gates is averaging more yards and more touchdowns per game through his career than Gonzalez.

On this Sunday, the Chiefs defense must find a way to keep Gates and Rivers from playing catch.

“We know that they are going to throw him the ball and he is going to catch it,” Crennel said. “If I had a tight end that was going to catch it every time I threw it to him I would throw it to him too. That is what you have to deal with.”

Here are the performances by Gates against the Chiefs over the last eight seasons:

Date Site

W/L

Rec.

Yds.

Avg.

Lg.

TD

11-30-03 San Diego

L

3

49

16.3

18t

1

11-28-04 Kansas City

W

7

92

13.1

27

2

10-30-05 San Diego

W

10

145

14.5

35t

3

12-24-05 Kansas City

L

4

52

13.0

22

1

10-22-06 Kansas City

L

9

63

7,0

21

1

12-17-06 San Diego

W

1

7

7.0

7

0

9-30-07 San Diego

L

6

79

13.2

27

0

12-2-07 Kansas City

W

1

-1

-1.0

-1

0

11-8-08 San Diego

W

8

66

8.3

15

1

12-14-08 Kansas City

W

7

78

11.1

23

0

10-25-09 Kansas City

W

5

55

11.0

25

0

11-29-09 San Diego

W

7

118

16.9

22

2

9-13-10 Kansas City

L

5

76

15.2

34

1

Total 7-KC, 6-SD

8-5

73

879

12.0

35t

12

NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR FRIDAY, DECEMBER 10

  • NFL – fined Eagles DE Trent Cole $20,000 for roughing the passer penalty; fined Cardinals DL Alan Branch $10,000 for roughing the passer penalty; fined Lions DE Cliff Avril $15,000 for unnecessarily striking a QB in the face; fined Panths S Charles Godfrey $7,5000 for a horse-collar tackle.
  • BENGALS – placed DB Rico Murray on the injured-reserve list (ankle) ending his season; signed FB Chris Pressley off their practice squad.
  • BRONCOS – CB Perrish Cox has been charged with sexual assault in the city of Lone Tree, Colorado. He was jailed on a $15,000 bond.
  • CARDINALS – will starter rookie John Skelton at quarterback on Sunday.
  • JAGUARS – placed OT Kevin Haslam on the injured-reserve list (hand) ending his season; signed OT Daniel Baldridge off their practice squad.
  • LIONS – placed WR Derrick Williams on the injured-reserve list (ankle) ending his season; re-signed WR Brian Clark.
  • PANTHERS – the NFL suspended G Duke Robinson four games for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.
  • PATRIOTS – the NFL suspended ILB Brandon Spikes for four games for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs; signed CB Chevis Jackson, last with the Jaguars.

6 Responses to “Closing Gates Is Key … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 11, 2010  - KC_Guy says:

    Gates, Jackson, Floyd plus Matthews, Tolbert and Sprowles available – the Defense has its work cut out. And the Offense better take care that Rivers doesn’t get his hands on the ball too often.

    I think we’ll see a lot of points on the scoreboard – distribution yet to be defined.


  • December 11, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    Wow Bob. Thanks so much for letting us all know how great Mr. Gates is. Are you sure you did’nt miss something about the great Antonio?
    Go Chiefs.


  • December 11, 2010  - DAVID says:

    The first game this year the Chiefs did a great job of covering Gates, sometimes even triple coverage and I expect them to do the same this time. They didnt completely shut him down the thing is that the Chargers rely on Gates to win and with Vincent Jackson not been playing much the Chiefs have a great chance to basically clinch the division this week! GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • December 11, 2010  - el cid says:

    Reported V Jackson will play. If I recall correctly, Gates has always been a thorn in our side over several HCs, I expect no less sunday. The Chiefs best defense will be to keep Rivers and crew off the field. Run and run again. A shootout does not seem to favor the Chiefs. Low scoring and pretty ugly, does not matter, we need to just win.


  • December 11, 2010  - TDKC says:

    Chiefs need special teams to be a factor. And I don’t mean giving up a blocked punt.

    Hopefully Dex has shaken off the rust.


  • December 11, 2010  - el cid says:

    The Star is reporting the Chiefs signed Charles to a new contract.




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