It wasn't quite like sandlot ball, but with these two guys, it might as well have been.
The 34-year-old Gates scored on catches of 8, 8 and 21 yards.
"He doesn't surprise me, but I will say all three touchdown catches, for the most part, didn't come up exactly like they were drawn up," Rivers said. "They're a little bit backyard. We ended up close to the spots we were trying to do, but just a little bit different based on technique. They were obviously huge plays."
Gates' 21-yarder was epic, as the star tight end split two defenders and extended for Rivers' pass, reaching out with his left hand to gather it in. Flat on his back in the end zone, he held up the ball to show the referee. That gave San Diego a 27-14 lead late in the third quarter.
"Philip trusts in me to make plays," Gates said. "I knew it was man coverage. The rest was history. I stuck out my hand and was able to make a one-handed grab. It just shows tremendous confidence in what the call was from the offensive coordinator on down to the quarterback."
Gates missed most of the Chargers' offseason workouts to be with his 22-year-old sister, Pamela, who died on July 23 after battling lupus for three years.
"Obviously I dealt with issues all offseason, but I'm not the only player on this team that's had issues," Gates said. "Just the fact that we continue to believe that we can achieve what we set aside to accomplish. This speaks volumes to what the locker room is about, and what we believe we can go out and do on Sundays."
Rivers has thrown 65 touchdown passes to Gates, the most in NFL history between a quarterback and a tight end.
"He definitely capitalized on every opportunity he had and he showed why he is an All-Pro tight end," Seattle safety Kam Chancellor said.
"I hadn't seen him from the early days, but I can tell you he is a good tight end," Chancellor added. "First thing is he had a good quarterback. A quarterback that looks for him that knows him. They have that bond, that quarterback-tight end bond. And he is very crafty. He is a crafty tight end."
The three touchdown receptions tied Gates' career high. Rivers was 28 of 37 for 284 yards.
"They did a real good job on third down when they had the ball," Wilson said. "They just sustained drives and kept us off the field offensively."
Seattle turned the ball over on downs on its 10 in the closing minutes and San Diego's Nick Novak kicked his third field goal, from 28 yards, with 16 seconds left.
The Seahawks came back with a three-play, 60-yard drive capped when Harvin took a pitch from Wilson, got the edge and ran 51 yards down the left sideline for a 7-3 lead. But Harvin had stepped on the sideline during the run and the NFL said after the game the score was "incorrectly confirmed." The league said the ball should have been spotted at the 21-yard line.
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press