The Carolina Panthers survived in L.A. to defeat the Chargers 21-16. It was Matt Rhule’s first win as an NFL head coach. Linebacker Shaq Thompson presented him with the game ball. The win didn’t come easily as the Chargers had a chance in the final seconds. L.A. almost pulled off a picture-perfect hook-and-ladder play, but Austin Ekeler could not handle the lateral from Keenan Allen. The Panthers recovered the fumble as the game clock hit zeros.
It was a long time coming, but after 329 days the Panthers finally ended up in the win column. With no Christian McCaffrey to lean on, Teddy Bridgewater took to the air to power the offense. He threw for 235 yards with one touchdown. The key stat for him was no turnovers. A huge improvement from giving the ball away three times a week ago against the Buccaneers. Mike Davis did just enough earning 46 yards on 13 carries, along with 45 receiving yards and the one touchdown from Bridgewater. It is a little discouraging with so many trips in the red zone that only one touchdown was converted. Joey Sly’s leg was on fire hitting a total of five field goals.
The defensive pressure was the star of the game for the Panthers. Marquis Haynes started it off by leveling Justin Herbert on the Chargers’ first drive, giving Carolina their first sack of the season. The floodgates opened after that. On L.A.’s second offensive series, Brian Burns strip-sacked Herbert with Tahir Whitehead recovering the loose ball. In total, the Chargers turned over the ball four times. Three of those giveaways led to 12 points for the Panthers. Carolina’s defense finished the contest with two sacks and eight quarterback hits. It was a good call by defensive coordinator Phil Snow to bring the heat to a rookie signal-caller behind a depleted Chargers offensive line.
The Panthers were able to hem in Herbert but next week Carolina will face off against dynamic Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. Bank of America Stadium will have fans in the stands for the first time this season. Seven percent of the venue is allowed. The Chargers make the trip east next week to take on Brady and the Bucs.