The Seahawks have seen the Gates of Hell.
He’s a 34-year-old tight end who seems perpetually injured but who still finds ways to burn opponents.
On a scorching Sunday in San Diego, Antonio Gates caught fire — and three touchdown passes — against a Seattle defense that appeared ill-prepared for the heat and the physical pounding the Chargers’ offense put on it in San Diego’s 30-21 win.
The Seattle defense — so good at stopping tight ends last season — apparently forgot the formula in the San Diego heat. Last postseason alone, the Hawks held Jimmy Graham to one catch for eight yards, Vernon Davis to two receptions for 16 yards and Julius Thomas to four for 27.
But Gates, who was hindered by a hamstring injury all week, caught seven passes for 96 yards and scored against linebackers Malcolm Smith and K.J. Wright and safety Kam Chancellor.
It was the first time Gates had caught three TD passes since a 28-20 win over Kansas City in 2005.
“He definitely capitalized on every opportunity he had,” Chancellor told reporters. “He showed why he is (a five-time) All-Pro tight end. He also has a good quarterback that looks to him and knows him and his timing. They have the quarterback/tight end bond. He is a crafty tight end.”