By Tim Peterson
(Inglewood) – The Chargers turned the ball over three times and it proved to be costly in a 21-16 loss to Carolina Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
The Chargers had a shot at the end of the game when they drove down to the Panther 23 yard line with 13 seconds left but a false start penalty pushed them back five yards and after a complete pass a botched lateral attempt ended the game.
“You can’t win on this league when you turn the ball over three times and don’t get it back,” said Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn.
The Panthers got on the board first on a Joey Slye 29-yard field goal with 9:20 left in the first quarter.
After Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert fumbled on what appeared to be an incomplete pass on the next possession, Carolina took advantage with another Slye field goal, this one from 24 yards to make it 6-0 later in the quarter.
The Chargers put together a 10-play, 75 yard drive with Austin Ekeler finding the end zone on 12-yard run yo give LA a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter.
Slye capped a 59 -yard drive on the Panthers next possession to put Carolina back on top 9-7.
Joshua Kelly coughed it up on the Chargers next possession and the Panthers recovered on LA’s second turnover of the day.
Teddy Bridgewater hit Mike Davis on a 13-yard touchdown pass after the turnover to go up 15-7 with 2:58 left in the half.
As the Chargers were trying to make something happen late in the second quarter, Donte Jackson picked off Herbert and returned it 66 yards down to the Charger eight- yard line with eight seconds left in the half. The Panthers were stopped on first down but Slye came on to boot a 22 yard field goal, his fourth of the game, to give the Panthers an 18-7 lead at the half.
Each team punted twice in the third quarter. The Chargers did manage a 41-yard field goal by Michael Badgley to cut the Carolina lead to 18-10 heading into the fourth.
Slye booted his fifth three-pointer of the day after an eight play drive early in the fourth quarter to push the Panthers lead back up to 11 at 21-10.
The Chargers drove 75 yards on 16 plays with Keenan Allen hauling in a 14 -yard touchdown pass from Herbert to cut the lead to 21-16 with 4:33 left. The two point conversion failed.
The Chargers got the ball back with 1:43 remaining and drove down to the Carolina 28 yard line with six seconds left, but that’s when Herbert completed a pass to Allen however the ball was fumbled when Allen tried to keep it alive with a lateral as the clock ran out and Carolina survived.
“I thought we moved the ball up and down the field pretty well and I thought our quarterback did a good job but you’re only going to win ten percent of the time when you turn the ball over like that. That’s on me. I need to do a better job coaching,” Lynn said.
Herbert completed 35 of 49 for 330 yards and a touchdown but was hurt by the fumble and the interception. Allen caught 13 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown and Ekeler led the rushing attack with 12 carries for 59 yards. Ekeler also had 11 receptions for 84 yards.
For the Panthers Bridgewater went 22 of 28 for 235 yards and a score. DJ Moore had two catches for 65 yards and Davis caught 8 for 45. Davis added 13 rushes for 46 yards.
The Chargers fell to 1-2 with the loss while the Panthers improved to 1-2 on the season.