The Chargers traveled to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers, and traveling with them were the remaining hopes of capturing a wild-card slot. The 4-8 Panthers have been a completely different team since appearing in last year’s Super Bowl. The Chargers knew it would be a tough task to pull off a win, but they didn’t know how tough it would be.
The Chargers first half was a poor performance. Philip Rivers was constantly under pressure, which forced multiple fumbles and an interception. Luckily, the Chargers’ defense would only allow 10 points off of those three turnovers. The only highlight of the first half for the Chargers was a nine-yard touchdown reception by Hunter Henry.
The first half was also riddled with injuries. Melvin Gordon suffered an apparent hip injury halfway into the first quarter, Craig Mager suffered an elbow injury, Joey Bosa went out with a possible concussion/neck injury and Orlando Franklin went out with a hip injury.
The second half started out well, with a Josh Lambo field goal. Then Dontrelle Inman found the end zone in the second half after hauling in a 19-yard pass from Philip Rivers (video).
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This touchdown closed the scoring gap 26-16 with a quarter left to play. However, after the defense forced a three-and-out, Rivers threw another interception which was intended for Antonio Gates. The Chargers’ defense answered back with an interception of their own, and Trovon Reed ran it back for a 100-yard defensive touchdown, However, after official review, it was ruled that Reed was down at the San Diego three-yard line.
After being backed up deep in their own territory, Rivers was sacked in the end zone for a safety. The turnovers didn’t stop there. On the Chargers’ final possession, Rivers threw a pass intended for Tyrell Williams and was intercepted by Panthers safety Kurt Coleman.
The Panthers’ defense constant pressure of Rivers was a key factor in this game. Rivers was sacked five times for a loss of 16 yards, and this pressure caused five total turnovers. It was the deciding factor in Sunday’s 28-16 defeat.
Any playoff hopes that remained have surely been eliminated after the loss, and the Chargers will use the remaining games to re-evaluate players and coaches.