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National Football League
Carolina 28, San Diego 16
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, December 11, 2016
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
Temperature: 37°
Head Official: Ron Torbert
Attendance: 73856

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Even a somewhat disjointed performance brought great joy for the Carolina Panthers after a turbulent stretch.

The 28-16 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium might not be enough to save the season, but it ended a two-game losing streak and brought a better vibe.

"It's very important," running back Jonathan Stewart said. "Last week was embarrassing for us."

It was a much-needed outcome for the Panthers (5-8), who were coming off consecutive losses on the West Coast and dealing with the aftermath of quarterback Cam Newton's brief benching because he violated the team's travel dress code.

"We responded after last week," linebacker A.J. Klein said, referring to the 33-point loss at Seattle.

Graham Gano kicked four field goals and the Panthers benefited from a strong first half on defense.

The Panthers won despite a rather erratic outing from Newton, who completed 10 of 27 passes for 160 yards.

"For us, we're happy that we got a win," Newton said, calling the past "debris" that was lingering.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who committed three of his five turnovers in the first half, was 21 of 39 for 236 yards with three interceptions.

"I turned it over five times; it's going to be tough winning," Rivers said. "I know I've said that plenty of times. ... There were probably times I tried to do too much. I know that. But I don't want to stand back there and throw passes away and get beat 35-3."

Rivers was sacked five times.

"It's a group effort," Carolina defensive end Wes Horton said. "It's not just one guy. I think we were a big factor as a front, not just one guy."

San Diego (5-8) threatened several times after trailing 23-0.

The Chargers' 14-play drive in the third quarter resulted in only a field goal.

Rivers threw 19 yards to receiver Dontrelle Inman for a touchdown with 30 seconds to play in the quarter, with an incomplete two-point conversion pass leaving the Chargers trailing 26-16.

San Diego had a chance to pull closer, but linebacker Shaq Thompson intercepted Rivers.

The Chargers got the ball back on cornerback Trovon Reed's interception, though his return for a touchdown was negated because it was determined he was down by contact at his own 3-yard line.

That turned out fine for the Panthers because defensive end Mario Addison sacked Rivers for safety with 10:09 left.

Then Carolina gambled on fourth-and-1 from midfield with eight minutes to play, converting on Stewart's 12-yard run.

Panthers safety Kurt Coleman picked off Rivers' fourth-down pass with 3:53 remaining to thwart the comeback bid.

It was a wretched start for the Chargers as well.

"We felt good about it coming in (to the game)," San Diego linebacker Kyle Emanuel said. "You could point to a million things (that went wrong) and sometimes it doesn't go your way."

Gano's 41-yard field goal opened the scoring on the Carolina's first possession.

The Panthers needed to go only 35 yards after a punt for the game's first touchdown on Stewart's 1-yard leap.

Rookie cornerback Daryl Worley intercepted Rivers on the first play of the second quarter. That led to an eight-play, 58-yard touchdown drive with Newton throwing 6 yards to receiver Devin Funchess for the score.

Funchess had returned to the game after leaving with a first-quarter mouth injury suffered on the team's first series of the game.

"No video, look at this," Funchess pleaded with reporters afterward because of his bulky lip.

Gano's 44-yard field goal with 5:24 to play in the first half increased the lead.

Linebacker A.J. Klein's sack caused a second Rivers fumble, and Carolina converted on Gano's 45-yard field goal.

Newton completed only six of his first 15 passes and yet the Panthers led 23-0.

Rivers threw 9 yards to tight end Hunter Henry to put the Chargers on the board with 1:03 left in the first half. Of San Diego's 117 first-half yards, 75 came on the drive.

The Chargers suffered a first-quarter blow when running back Melvin Gordon was taken from the field on a cart after suffering a hip injury. Gordon was hit from behind when players pursued a fumble after Rivers was stripped, with Carolina recovering.

San Diego's defense took a hit when rookie defensive end Joey Bosa left with a neck injury and was to be evaluated for a concussion. The first-round draftee out of Ohio State was injured as he sacked Newton with 6:29 left in the second quarter. It was Bosa's first sack of the game and his sixth sack across a nine-game period.

NOTES: Panthers LB Luke Kuechly missed his third game in a row since suffering a concussion on Nov. 17. He went through limited practices during the week but wasn't cleared from the concussion protocol. ... The Panthers released CB Robert McClain, a fifth-year player. ... The victory gave Carolina a 1-3 record against AFC West teams this year. ... The Panthers have won five of their six meetings with San Diego. ... Chargers coach Mike McCoy spent eight seasons as an assistant coach for Carolina. ... Panthers coach Ron Rivera is a former San Diego defensive coordinator. ... San Diego is home against Oakland next week. The Panthers play next Monday night at Washington.
Top Game Performances
Rushing
San Diego   Carolina
Kenneth Farrow Player Jonathan Stewart
16 Attempts 24
55 Yards 66
3.4 Avg Yards 2.8
0 Touchdowns 1
11 Long 20
Receiving
San Diego   Carolina
Dontrelle Inman Player Greg Olsen
6 Receptions 4
71 Yards 87
11.8 Avg Yards 21.8
1 Touchdowns 0
20 Long 36
Team Stats Summary
 
  Yards Scoring Defense
Team Tot Rus Pas TD FG INT Sck FF
San Diego 278 58 220 2 1 1 2.0 0
Carolina 272 126 146 2 4 3 5.0 2
Upcoming Games
  • Carolina will play their next game on the road against Washington. The Panthers have a W/L % of .200 after a win and .500 after a loss.
  • San Diego will play their next game at home against Oakland. The Chargers have a W/L % of .200 after a win and .500 after a loss.