The Los Angeles Chargers suffered a disappointing 21-16 defeat Sunday afternoon, falling to the Carolina Panthers at SoFi Stadium. Because of this loss, the Chargers fall to a record of 1-2 in the new season.
Coming into Sunday’s affair, big controversy swirled for the Bolts over whether to start veteran Tyrod Taylor or the sixth pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, Justin Herbert.
Herbert had to fill in for Taylor the previous week after Taylor had his lung accidentally punctured by a team doctor just moments before the game. Herbert had an impressive debut performance against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, leading many fans to root for him to permanently get the starting job.
Taylor had still not recovered by Sunday morning, so Herbert once again got the start.
The Oregon product gave a decent performance against the Panthers, throwing for 330 yards and completing 35 of his 49 passing attempts. Herbert’s outing definitely had some rough patches, though, as he was picked off by Carolina cornerback Donte Jackson just before the half.
“We knew that they were gonna be really athletic,” Herbert said after the game. “They got some guys on their D-line that can make plays. We did our best to be prepared for what they were going to bring. I thought we made some big protections, and I tried to get the ball out as quickly as I can.”
Herbert had help, though, as Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen had a huge day, catching 13 passes for 132 yards. Allen’s biggest play came late in the fourth quarter, when he caught a difficult pass from Herbert for a 14-yard touchdown.
In terms of rushing, Los Angeles was average on the day, as Chargers running back Austin Ekeler rushed for 59 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown. Ekeler, however, contributed to the passing game, getting 84 yards off of 11 receptions.
Chargers running back Joshua Kelly ran for 43 yards on eight carries, resulting in a combined 102-yard performance from Los Angeles' running backs on the day.
Despite good flashes, self-inflicted mistakes ultimately killed the Chargers. They committed eight penalties for 60 yards compared to Carolina’s disciplined showing of three for 30. Turnovers were also rampant for the Bolts, who committed an eye-raising four on the day.
“I thought they fought hard,” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said of his team in the post-game press conference. “Young quarterback … gave us a chance to win the football game. Just trying to take some positives from this. I gotta do a better job … putting this team in a position of winning and eliminating … turnovers.”
Los Angeles' defeat comes despite dominating in other major team statistical categories such as total yards, passing yards and first downs. Los Angeles was also much more efficient on third down compared to Carolina, converting on 10 of 15. Carolina, on the other hand, was only successful on three of their 12 third-down attempts.
The Chargers currently sit third in the AFC West above a struggling Denver team. They may be battling against division rival Las Vegas Raiders all season long for a wild-card spot. Las Vegas currently sits in second with a record of 2-1.
The Chargers' next game will be in Tampa Bay against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Herbert is expected to be the starting quarterback once again, as news has hit that Taylor is also expected to miss Week 4′s matchup against the Bucs.
The game will be broadcast at 10 a.m. PST on CBS.