The Panthers picked up their first win in 10 tries after hanging on to a 21-16 victory over the Chargers in what turned out to be a nail biter late in the fourth quarter. The Chargers nearly came back and spoiled the Panthers’ victory parade, but the defense was able to hang on by the skin of their teeth at the end to preserve their first win under new head coach Matt Rhule.
This game didn’t need to be as stressful as it was, but the Panthers struggled in the red zone on offense and had to settle for five Joey Slye field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. The defense played well and kept the Chargers offense at bay for most of the afternoon, and that made all the difference in this one.
A special shoutout goes to Brian Burns and Jeremy Chinn, who were all over the field today on defense and wreaked havoc on the Chargers’ offense. Justin Herbert played about as well as you can expect a rookie quarterback to play, but the Panthers defense was good enough to get the job done to avoid an 0-3 start to the 2020 season. It’s been a while, but it’s nice to be on this end of a failed comeback attempt for once.
Fourth quarter: Panthers 21 - Chargers 16
The Panthers faltered in the red zone again but extended their lead to 11 points thanks to another Joey Slye field goal. The Panthers led 21-10 with 10:58 left in the game.
The Chargers wore down the Panthers defense and pulled to within five after Herbert found Keenan Allen in the end zone to make it a 21-16 game, but they failed to connect on the two point conversion to keep the Panthers’ lead at five points with 4:33 left in the game.
The Panthers managed to drain the clock down beyond the two minute warning and forced the Chargers to use all of their timeouts but couldn’t add to their lead and had to protect a five point lead with just 1:55 left in the game. JJ Jansen miraculously downed the punt inside the 1-yard line and forced the Chargers to have to go 99 yards if they wanted to win the game.
The Chargers surprisingly dinked and dunked their way down the field for the first minute, and Shaq Thompson went down to one knee with 0:33 left in the game with an apparent injury to stop the clock. Yetur Gross-Matos gave the Chargers a free 15 yards by accidentally hitting Herbert in the helmet when trying to prevent him from completing a throw, and the Chargers suddenly found themselves within striking distance of the end zone at the CAR 25-yard line with 0:13 left in the game.
The Chargers made a valiant comeback attempt, but the Panthers were able to hang on to pick up their first win in 10 games with a 21-16 road victory.
Third quarter: Panthers 18 - Chargers 10
The Panthers started the second half on defense, and Brian Burns made a huge play on third down as he hit Herbert’s arm in the middle of his throw to force an incomplete pass and a fourth down to get the offense back on the field, but the offense wasn’t able to get anything going and had to punt after a three-and-out deep in their own territory.
The defense did their job on the next drive, even though Donte Jackson had to come off with an apparent injury. He seemed to be alright though as he walked off the field under his own power. The Panthers forced the Chargers into a second-and-28 after Brian Burns and Juston Burris blew up an attempted reverse, and the Panthers were able to set up their next drive at their own 9-yard line after a Chargers punt.
The Panthers were once again unable to get anything going on offense and had to punt after their second straight three-and-out. The defense trotted back out onto the field to protect their lead with 5:46 left in the quarter. Donte Jackson was back on the field, which was comforting since he left earlier with an apparent injury.
The defense buckled down and despite a first-and-goal situation, they held the Chargers to a field goal to cut the Panthers lead to just eight points at 18-10 with 1:12 left in the quarter.
Teddy Bridgewater found DJ Moore deep down the field to give the Panthers some much-needed time in the Chargers’ half of the field to close out the quarter.
Second quarter: Panthers 18 - Chargers 7
The Chargers continued their drive from the end of the first quarter and took a 7-6 lead over Carolina on an Austin Ekeler touchdown run where the Panthers defenders decided they didn’t want to tackle him.
The Panthers responded well on offense again with another solid drive, and yet again it ended in disappointment when the Panthers were unable to get anything going inside the red zone. They settled for their third field goal of the game to take a 9-7 lead with 8:11 left in the quarter.
The defense did their job and forced another turnover on a fumble by the Chargers running back. Shaq Thompson and Tre Boston combined to make the play to give the Panthers’ offense a chance to extend their lead.
The Panthers made it to the red zone again and had to settle for a field goal (again), but the Chargers bailed them out with an illegal formation penalty that gave the Panthers a gift first down. The Panthers scored a touchdown on the very next play to extend their lead, but Joey Slye’s extra point was blocked to make the score 15-7 in favor of the Panthers with 2:58 left in the quarter.
Donte Jackson made a huge play in the final 30 seconds of the half by intercepting Herbert and returning it all the way down to the LA 9-yard line with 0:08 left in the half. The Panthers were unable to punch it into the end zone but did manage to extend their lead with another field goal from Slye to close out the half with an 18-7 lead.
First quarter: Panthers 6 - Chargers 0
The Panthers started the game on offense after the Chargers won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. The Panthers went three-and-out on their opening drive after gaining just two yards in three plays.
The defense did a good job on the Chargers’ first possession by forcing them into their own three-and-out, and even picked up their first sack of the season. Marquis Haynes had the honor of getting the team’s first sack on an opposing quarterback.
The Panthers put something together on their second drive as Teddy Bridgewater found several receivers down field to get into Chargers territory, but the drive stalled and the Panthers settled for a Joey Slye field goal to take a 3-0 lead with 9:20 left in the quarter.
The defense responded by forcing a fumble on the Chargers’ first play at their own 35-yard line. The offense managed to get into a first-and-goal situation but had to settle for another field goal from Slye to take a 6-0 lead with 4:28 left in the quarter.
The Chargers held the ball for the rest of the first quarter on their following drive, but were unable to change the score before the clock hit zero.
The Panthers and Chargers will kickoff today at 4:05 p.m. ET from SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. Stay tuned for a quarterly update thread.
Game day information
What: Carolina Panthers at Los Angeles Chargers
When: Sunday, September 27 at 4:05 p.m. ET
Where: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)
TV: CBS; Greg Gumble, Rich Gannon, Jay Feely (coverage map)
Streaming: FuboTV, CBS All Access (subscription req.), Yahoo! Sports, Panthers mobile app
Radio: Panthers radio (local); Mick Mixon
Spanish Radio: Panthers radio (local); Jaime Moreno, Antonio Ramos
Weather: 80° / Sunny / 10 mph W wind / 10% rain (complete forecast)
Note: The weather will not have an effect on the game because SoFi Stadium has a fixed roof. Also, it’s in California.