Carolina Panthers

Instant analysis: Panthers takeaways the difference against Chargers

San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers (17) fumbles the ball after being hit by Carolina Panthers' Kawann Short (99) in the first half Sunday.
San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers (17) fumbles the ball after being hit by Carolina Panthers' Kawann Short (99) in the first half Sunday. AP

Instant analysis from the Carolina Panthers’ 28-16 victory over the San Diego Chargers.

Defense plays takeaway in a big way.

The Panthers’ defense looked like last season’s opportunistic group, forcing a season-high five turnovers against Chargers QB Philip Rivers, who had three interceptions and two fumbles.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said this week it was good the front four was facing a stationary target in the 35-year-old Rivers, who was sacked five times and never got comfortable. Losing RB Melvin Gordon in the first quarter to a hip injury didn’t help San Diego.

But this was a tenacious defensive effort.

Kelvin Benjamin needs a wake-up call.

Apparently Rivera’s fight-to-the-end message didn’t reach Benjamin, who gave shoddy effort (that’s putting it kindly) after an interception by Trovon Reed and a near-interception by Jahleel Addae.

The refs bailed Benjamin out in both cases. But no matter: It was a bad look for a guy who two weeks ago threw a hissy fit when he was pulled from the game in Oakland.

Rivera appeared to bench Benjamin, who did not play the final series. The supposed No. 1 wideout had one catch for 11 yards.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton spoke with the media following the team's 28-16 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. Newton stressed the team must keep pushing to score.

Not a pretty performance by Newton, but he’ll take the win.

Panthers QB Cam Newton failed to complete 50 percent of his passes for the fourth game in a row.

Newton completed 10 of 27 passes for a 37 percent mark that was the second-lowest of his career. Newton threw for 160 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, which was the goal-line throw that Benjamin didn’t help on.

But after his week of Tiegate fallout and questions about his preparation, Newton surely was glad to get a W.

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