Taking advantage of yet another mismatch, Gates got behind linebacker Will Witherspoon to haul in a go-ahead, 48-yard pass from Philip Rivers midway through the third quarter to help the San Diego Chargers rally for a 33-25 win Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, who lost Young to another injury.
Young was hurt while scrambling with less than six minutes to play and had to be helped off the field. Kerry Collins moved the Titans to the Chargers 15 before Chris Johnson dropped a pass on fourth-and-2 with 30 seconds to go.
Young had played well after returning from a sprained left knee and ankle that kept him out of a win against Philadelphia a week earlier. Young completed 10 of 21 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns.
San Diego (3-5) snapped a three-game losing streak and won its eighth straight game against the Titans dating to 1993. The Titans (5-3) had their three-game winning streak snapped. San Diego is the only team Titans coach Jeff Fisher hasn't beaten.
The Titans lost wide receiver Kenny Britt to a hamstring injury in the first quarter. Chargers rookie running back Ryan Mathews sustained cuts and scrapes when his helmet came off in the third quarter but he returned.
Gates, who's been playing through a toe injury, caught his ninth TD pass this season for a 24-19 lead. The star tight end was late coming out of the locker room after halftime because he was getting his foot re-taped.
Rivers had his fifth 300-yard game of the season, completing 27 of 36 for 305 yards, with two TDs and one interception. He also threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles with 6:51 left. The Chargers botched the point after, which would have given them a nine-point lead.
Young's 71-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Nate Washington pulled the Titans to 27-25 with 11:43 left. The conversion pass to Johnson failed.
The win may have saved the season for the Chargers, who'd been off to their worst start in four seasons under coach Norv Turner.
The Chargers trailed 19-7 late in the second quarter before getting three straight scores.
Mathews scored on a 7-yard run 1:55 before halftime and Kris Brown kicked a 34-yard field goal midway through the third quarter to bring the Chargers within two. Gates' TD catch gave San Diego its first lead since the first quarter.
Brown kicked a 36-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter for a 27-19 lead. On the Titans' first play from scrimmage, Young hit Washington for the long touchdown.
The Titans took their 19-7 lead on a 29-yard TD run by Johnson with 4:43 left in the second quarter. He started right and then cut back to his left, avoided two tackles and then picked up a key block from Young, who took out cornerback Antoine Cason at about the 15 to clear the way to the end zone. Young then slung Johnson over his shoulder and carried him toward the bench.
Another Chargers special teams blunder led to a 2-0 Titans lead less than two minutes into the game. Nick Schommer blocked Mike Scifres' punt, with the ball bouncing out of the end zone and into the stands for a safety.
Rivers led the Chargers on an 83-yard, 15-play drive capped on a 1-yard run by fullback Mike Tolbert for a 7-2 lead.
The Titans got Rob Bironas' 21-yard field goal and a 1-yard TD pass from Young to tight end Craig Stevens on consecutive drives to take a 12-7 lead.