Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) celebrates with teammates in the endzone after a 12-yard touchdown run (Twitter photo)

It was a tough day at the office for Chargers rookies Justin Herbert and Joshua Kelley. The two combined for three turnovers continually stalling drives and scoring opportunities for LA.

“Disappointed in the loss, those are games you’d love to win but turn the ball over three times, you can’t expect to win the game like that,” said Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.

After a week removed from a fill-in start against the Chiefs taking the defending Super Bowl champs to overtime, Justin Herbert seemed to be filled with jitters against a Carolina Panthers team without exceptional playmaker Christian McCaffrey.

Herbert committed his first turnover with 7:35 left in the first quarter from a strip-sack by Panthers defensive end Brian Burns leading to a Joey Slye 24-yard field goal.

“I have to do a better job and the coaches have to do a better job of eliminating the ‘stupid’, and the turnovers,” said head coach Anthony Lynn.

The Panthers seized every opportunity they got to score, coming away with points on 6-of-10 possessions. The Chargers only capitalized on 3-of-10 possessions attempting to claw their way back into the contest for a majority of the game.

Los Angeles’ offense got going in the second quarter thanks to a shifty 12-yard touchdown run by Austin Ekeler putting the Chargers ahead 7-6.

Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) made 13 catches for 132 yards and scored 1 touchdown against the Panthers (Courtesy of the L.A. Chargers)

Trailing 7-9 after conceding a Joey Slye 30-yard field goal, LA’s rookie running back Joshua Kelley was stripped by Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson. Carolina quarterback Teddy Bridgewater capitalized on the turnover tossing a 13-yard touchdown pass to running back Mike Davis, extending the Panthers lead 15-7.

The next possession Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson intercepted Herbert returning the pick 66-yards setting up once again another Joey Slye field goal with the Panthers now leading 18-7 at the half.

“A couple of times he tried to force the ball, sometimes young quarterbacks make that mistake,” said Lynn.

“I tried to get the ball out, got hit from behind, turned out it was a fumble, then made a poor decision [on the interception] turned the ball over,” said Justin Herbert on his two costly turnovers.

Down 21-10 in the fourth, LA went on a 16 play 75-yard drive totaling 6 minutes and 25 seconds cutting into Carolina’s lead 21-16 from a Keenan Allen 14-yard touchdown grab with 4:33 left to play in the game. The Chargers went for a 2-point conversion and were unsuccessful.


The Chargers stopped the Panthers driving down the field as time ran off the clock. With one play left and the Chargers on the Panthers 28-yard line, Herbert bought time in the pocket and fired a pass to Keenan Allen flashing across the middle of the field. Allen attempted the infamous hook and ladder play pitching it back to Ekeler running to the left with that side of the field vacant but Ekeler bobbled the pitch hitting the turf and the Panthers recovered to end the game.

That final play summed up the day for the Chargers. LA was presented with countless opportunities but failed to execute.

Justin Herbert threw for 330 yards, a touchdown, interception, and fumble. Keenan Allen caught 13 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. Austin Ekeler had 59 rushing yards, 89 receiving yards, and a rushing touchdown.

The Chargers will attempt to bounce back next Sunday taking on the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay at 10 am. Justin Herbert is expected to start again in week 4 for the injured Tyrod Taylor.