Is Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates the Greatest QB/TE Combination in NFL History?

Brandon Alisoglu@@BrandonAlisogluCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2012

We always want to label someone the best of all time at something. However, when it comes to Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates, there are plenty of reasons to include them in the best quarterback-to-tight-end combination conversation.

There's actually 51 of them to be exact.

The San Diego Chargers spent a good part of the 1990s mired in mediocrity with the exception of a surprising Super Bowl run in 1995.

The last decade has been a completely different story, and a large reason for all that success is Rivers to Gates.

As of the fourth quarter of their Monday night matchup against the Denver Broncos, the pair has hooked up for 51 touchdowns. Many of those on big drives in big games to take or extend leads.

So are they the best ever?

Unfortunately for Chargers fans, the answer is no.

There was a rival combination that didn't exceed the San Diego duo in numbers, but they handled their business as well.

It's a close call, but John Elway to Shannon Sharpe ranks as the best quarterback-to-tight-end connection of all time.

Elway-to-Sharpe recorded an impressive 44 touchdowns during their time together, but more importantly, the pair won two Super Bowls together.

They never combined for a score in said Super Bowls, but don't let that little misnomer fool you. Their chemistry was one of the top-three reasons why the Broncos won either championship.

In fact, Shannon Sharpe led the team in receiving in 1997 with 72 receptions for 1,107 yards. It would be easy to point out that Sharpe only had three touchdowns that year. However, that would be naive because Elway found him 10 times for scores in 1998.

Is the Rivers-to-Gates connection one of the best of all time? Without a doubt.

Just not the best. At least not yet.

Related

    Minicamp Roundup: What Does Henry's Injury Mean for Gates?

    Los Angeles Chargers logo
    Los Angeles Chargers

    Minicamp Roundup: What Does Henry's Injury Mean for Gates?

    Brent Sobleski
    via Bleacher Report

    HOFer Dickerson on Anthem Rule: 'You Can't Please Everybody'

    NFL logo
    NFL

    HOFer Dickerson on Anthem Rule: 'You Can't Please Everybody'

    Timothy Rapp
    via Bleacher Report

    Jason Verrett Not Yet Cleared to Practice Fully

    Los Angeles Chargers logo
    Los Angeles Chargers

    Jason Verrett Not Yet Cleared to Practice Fully

    Charean Williams
    via ProFootballTalk

    Congressman Blasts Jets Owner's Offer to Pay Anthem Fines

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Congressman Blasts Jets Owner's Offer to Pay Anthem Fines

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report