The San Diego Chargers lost on the road to the Carolina Panthers. The Chargers played extremely flat and it showed in the final score 28-16. Both teams were playing for pride at this point and the Chargers showed none. They allowed Cam Newton and the offense to punch them in the mouth and dictate the flow of the game.
Carolina gave San Diego a steady dose of Newton and Jonathan Stewart in the running department. Both are big, physical runners who love to attack the line of scrimmage. They were held to a combined 97 yards rushing, but that set up the passing game. Newton struggled through the air as he was held to 160 yards by a stingy Bolts defense. He did, however, find success throwing over the middle to the ever-so-reliable Greg Olsen. The Chargers have struggled patching up the middle of the field all season highlighted by the fact that Dexter McCoil and Jahleel Addae struggle in coverage. Devin Funchess was the recipient of Newton’s only touchdown and Kelvin Benjamin was held to just one catch.
Again, the defense stepped up and kept the Chargers within striking distance after trailing by 23 points. Bosa was able to secure a sack on the reigning MVP, but did not return to the game after sustaining a concussion. Craig Mager was also forced to leave the game a lot earlier than he would have liked to.
No Luke Kuechly and no Charles Johnson meant no problem for the Panthers defense. Their replacements, AJ Klein and Mario Addison, stepped up big in their absence. Klein recorded a crucial strip-sack and Addison forced a safety as he sacked Philip Rivers. The magic number for Rivers today was five as the Panthers sacked him five times and forced five turnovers. He looked completely out of sorts and could have used Melvin Gordon in this contest. Gordon hit the showers early as he was carted off with an apparent hip injury. Kenneth Farrow held his own as he ran the ball for 55 yards and caught six passes for 23 yards.
The Chargers have to be impressed with the progression of their young defense. They continue to play well even in the games the team has lost. Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman might not be household names, but they will be vital next season. With the return of Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson, this could be one of the best receiving cores in all of football.
It is still unclear as to what direction the team may be heading in terms of the future of Mike McCoy. One could make the argument that he has not had a healthy team in he last two seasons, yet they still compete at a high level. However, one could make the argument that he may be losing the players in the locker room. The Chargers can make the answer abundantly clear for the front office by playing hard and echoing their confidence in him.
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