SAN DIEGO – Drew Brees threw for 339 yards and a season-high four touchdowns, including one to Antonio Gates, as the Chargers routed the Buffalo Bills 48-10 for their third straight win.

Gates, a star tight end who causes headaches for defensive coordinators, hurt his right foot at the end of a 21-yard reception midway through the third quarter when he was tripped up by Angelo Crowell and then had safety Lawyer Milloy land on him. Gates remained on the ground for a few minutes before walking off the field. He tried to test the foot on the sideline, but immediately sat on the bench. He was carted off to the locker room and didn’t return.

Gates caught five passes for 77 yards and one touchdown before leaving. He has seven TD catches this year. Gates had a sensational 2004 season, leading the Chargers with 81 catches for 964 yards and setting an NFL record for tight ends with 13 touchdown catches. He was voted an All-Pro and selected for the Pro Bowl.

Gates missed a season-opening loss to Dallas as he finished serving a three-game suspension, his punishment for missing a team-imposed deadline for ending his training camp holdout.

Brees completed his first nine passes and threw for 265 yards in helping the Chargers take a 35-10 halftime lead. Overall he completed 28 of 33 passes, and the Chargers improved to 6-4.

Buffalo (4-6) is winless in five road games.

The Chargers had TDs on five of their seven first-half possessions.

LaDainian Tomlinson scored on a 1-yard dive over the pile on fourth down on the game’s opening drive, and it was all Brees after that.

Gates, covered by cornerback Jabari Greer, caught a 27-yard TD pass late in the first quarter. Brees had second-quarter scoring throws of 23 yards to Eric Parker, 2 yards to fullback Lorenzo Neal – also on fourth down – and 29 yards to Keenan McCardell.

Buffalo’s Willis McGahee, who contends he’s the NFL’s best running back, was held to 39 yards on 10 carries. J.P. Losman’s botched handoff to McGahee midway through the second quarter was recovered by Randall Godfrey, setting up Neal’s touchdown reception.

Tomlinson, generally considered the NFL’s best back – if not the league’s best player – had 67 yards on 19 carries, and caught three passes for 22 yards.

The Chargers sacked Losman six times, including two by rookie outside linebacker Shawne Merriman. Losman threw a 3-yard TD pass to Daimon Shelton late in the second quarter. Losman was intercepted once.

Nate Kaeding kicked field goals of 28 and 38 yards for the Chargers in the second half. Rian Lindell kicked a 53-yarder for the Bills in the first quarter.

Tomlinson’s backup, Michael Turner, had an 8-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.

At halftime, the Chargers retired Hall of Famer Lance Alworth’s No. 19 jersey.

AP-ES-11-20-05 1932EST

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