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Five takeaways from Panthers’ win over Chargers

December 13, 2016

The Carolina Panthers snapped a two-game losing skid Sunday afternoon, defeating the San Diego Chargers, 28-16, in Charlotte at Bank of America Stadium.

Carolina’s 12-point win moves the team to 5-8 on the season, which – for the time being – keeps the team mathematically in the playoff race.

The Panthers will take on Josh Norman and the Washington Redskins Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. from FedEx Field in search of their sixth win of the season.

Here are five takeaways from Carolina’s 28-16 victory over San Diego:

After taking down Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers five times on Sunday, Carolina leads the National Football League with 39 sacks this season, one more than the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.

Defensive tackle Kawann Short led the team with two tackles on Sunday. Defensive end Mario Addison upped his yearly total to 7.5 sacks after taking down Rivers in the endzone for the team’s first safety since Oct. 7, 2012.

Fellow defensive tackle Ryan Delaire and linebacker A.J. Klein – starting in place of Luke Kuechly – both tallied their first sacks of the season on Sunday.

Carolina swarmed Rivers and the Chargers’ offense Sunday afternoon, garnering a season-high five turnovers.

Rivers was responsible for all five of San Diego’s turnovers – three interceptions and two fumbles.

Second-year linebacker Shaq Thompson and rookie cornerback Daryl Worley tallied their first-career interceptions, and veteran safety Kurt Coleman recorded his third pick of the year.

Klein and Short forced one fumble apiece while taking down Rivers in the backfield.

The Panthers are five forced turnovers away from eclipsing last season’s total of 44 takeaways.

The NFL’s reigning MVP has rarely resembled the quarterback that spearheaded the league’s top offense last season. The trend continued Sunday, but Carolina found a way to get a much-needed victory.

Newton finished 10-of-27 for season-low 160 yards passing; he tossed one touchdown pass Sunday afternoon – a 6-yard strike to wide receiver Devin Funchess in the second quarter – and a was also picked off by Chargers cornerback Trovon Reed late in the contest.

Newton’s 37 percent completion percentage was the lowest of the season and the fourth-straight game posting less than 50 percent.

Third-year Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin recorded has failed to tally 100-yards receiving for the last 12 weeks. He racked up seven catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns in the team’s Week 2 win over San Francisco.

Benjamin was held to one catch for 11 yards Sunday afternoon, his second-lowest receiving total this season. He was held without a catch, and only targeted once, in Carolina’s Week 3 loss to Minnesota.

The former Florida State Seminole also has been held to less than three catches in each of the last three games. Benjamin has garnered three catches for 29 yards in the last two weeks.

Benjamin’s effort was questioned Sunday after Chargers safety Jahleel Addae seemed to pick off Newton and return the ball 42 yards, but officials ruled that the ball hit the ground.

After Benjamin looked to give up on the play after Addae nearly came up with the football, Reed intercepted Newton and returned the ball 100 yards for a score.

However, after further review, replay showed that Benjamin touched Reed before scampering 100 yards to the Panthers’ endzone.

Panthers’ kicker Graham Gano was responsive for half of the team’s 28 points against San Diego.

Gano was 4-of-4 Sunday afternoon, connecting from 23, 41, 44 and 45 yards, and he also 2-of-2 on extra points.

Michael Palardy averaged 45 yards on five punts and placed two inside the Chargers’ 20-yard line.

Carolina averaged starting field position at the San Diego 45-yard line through halftime, and the 43-yard line for the entire contest. The Chargers averaged starting field possession on their own 20-yard line.

After being outscored 47-14 in the first half of the team’s two-game West Coast road swing that resulted in losses to Oakland and Seattle, Carolina responded by building a 23-7 lead at halftime against the Chargers in Charlotte.

San Diego outscored Carolina 9-3 in the third quarter but were outscored 2-0 in the final frame Sunday afternoon.

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