CHARGERS LOSE EIGHTH GAME TO DISAPPOINTING PANTHERS TEAM
The San Diego Chargers (5-7) traveled to Charlotte to face the (4-8) Carolina Panthers. This was a matchup of two teams who found themselves at the bottom of their divisions with slim hopes of securing a playoff spot. The Chargers are coming off a disappointing loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while the Panthers and Cam Newton don’t seem to be playing at the same level we have seen in years past.
The Carolina Panthers won the toss and deferred to receive until the second half. The Chargers were dominated at the line of scrimmage early as their first drive saw an incomplete pass, a run for no gain, and a sack on third down, capped off with a poor punt from rookie punter Drew Kaser. The Panthers were able to take advantage of the good field position and San Diego’s soft zone coverage. Cam Newton had a couple of long completions that lead to a Carolina field goal that put them up 3-0.
Carolina continued to overpower the Charger’s offensive line on San Diego’s second drive. Rivers was hit in the backfield, forcing a fumble which was recovered by the Panthers. Melvin Gordon, the fourth leading rusher entering the game, was hurt on the play with a hip injury. The Charger’s defense held and the Panther’s were forced to punt.
The Chargers took over deep in their own territory as Kenneth Farrow came into the game for the injured Gordon. Rivers was under pressure once again, and missed a wide open Hunter Henry, and the Chargers were forced to punt. Kaser’s struggles continued with another poor punt, giving the Panther’s excellent field position as they took over on the Chargers 35 yard line. Newton found Olsen for a 17-yard completion and moved the ball to the Bolt’s 15. The Chargers choose not to chip Greg Olsen off the line and Newton made them pay for it, finding Olsen routinely for big gains. The Panthers’ drive resulted in a touchdown with Jonathan Stewart diving over the top to give Carolina a 10-0 lead.
Philip Rivers began the second half under constant pressure. Rivers’ pass intended for Tyrell Williams was intercepted by Daryl Worley and returned for 22 yards, giving the ball to Carolina’s offense on the Panthers’ 42. Carolina scored on a six yard pass to Devin Funchess, increasing their lead to 17-0. The Chargers went three and out on their next possession as Joe Barksdale was injured on the drive.
The Panthers next drive resulted in a Graham Gano (4 of 4) field goal, increasing their lead to 20-0 in the second quarter. On their next possession, Rivers fumbled as the pocket collapsed around him, and the Panthers took over deep into San Diego territory. San Diego’s first six possessions ended in a punt, fumble, punt, interception, punt, and fumble. The Chargers, desperately searching for momentum, seemed to have caught a break with an apparent Jahleel Addae interception. The call, however, was overturned as the ball made contact with the ground and came loose. Carolina retained possession and scored again on another Gano field goal. Carolina 23, San Diego 0.
San Diego took over, trying to put a drive together to end the second half. Rivers connected with Tyrell Williams on a 47-yard pass to set up the Chargers’ only score in the first half, a touchdown to TE Hunter Henry with 1:03 left in the half. Carolina was content to run out the clock and head into the locker room with a 23-7 lead.
The Panther offense was driving to start the third quarter and ended with Gano’s third field goal of the afternoon. 26-7 Carolina. San Diego’s first drive of the second half saw Rivers find Antonio Gates for a couple of long completions that brought them down into red zone but the drive stalled on a couple of penalties and ended with a Josh Lambo field goal. Carolina 26- Chargers 10.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Chargers defense forced the Panthers to punt and the Bolts offense took over. Rivers completed passes of 20 yards to Dontrelle Inman and 22 yards to Tyrell Williams to set up a 19-yard touchdown pass to Inman. Chargers attempted a two point conversion, but Gates was unable to hang on to the ball in the corner of the end zone. Carolina 26 – San Diego 16.
Another Carolina three-and-out and San Diego seemed to have changed the momentum of the game. The shift was short-lived as Philip Rivers forced a pass to Antonio Gates that was undercut and intercepted by Shaq Thompson. Cam Newton and the Panther offense took over on the San Diego 24 yard line. With the Panther’s driving down to the four, Trovon Reed intercepted Newton’s pass and returned it 97 yards for a Charger touchdown. After a review, Reed was ruled down by contact on the two yard line. Charger ball on the two. Three plays later, Rivers was sacked in the end zone by Mario Addison for a Panther safety. Carolina 28 – San Diego 16.
Carolina’s next drive stalled and they punted with half the quarter left in the game. After a first down on a 11-yard pass to Inman, Rivers threw three straight long balls with a little over four minutes left in the game, with the last one intercepted by Kurt Coleman to secure the Carolina win. Rivers finished the game with 236 yds, two touchdowns, three interceptions, and two fumbles. Final score, 28 – 16 Carolina. Carolina improved their record to 5-8 and dropped the Chargers to 5 -8. The loss of the game is a mere footnote compared to the loss of more key players due to injury, including Gordon and Bosa.
The Chargers were pathetic from the start. The offensive line had Philip running from the opening snap, and everyone knows that a running Rivers is a horrible Rivers. This was a game that meant nothing as both teams are more than likely three weeks away from the end of their season. This was a game that should have meant more. The Chargers should have been in the playoff hunt. The failure of the team to compete in this game and not be in a spot for the playoffs rests solely on the shoulders of one man. Mike McCoy. Teams with nothing to play for play for pride. Pride in themselves, their coach, and the city they represent. This game proved to me that they have no pride. McCoy has lost this team and now it’s time to lose him. Fire McCoy.