San Diego, CA – Cam Newton threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns as the Carolina Panthers crushed the San Diego Chargers, 31-7, at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday.
Newton continued his strong play of late, completing 19-of-33 passes on the day to help the Panthers (5-9) to their third win in four games. DeAngelo Williams rushed for 93 yards on 22 carries and also caught two passes for 51 yards and a touchdown.
Steve Smith led all receivers with six catches for 57 yards and a score.
The Carolina defense constantly harassed Phillip Rivers, who fumbled four times and was sacked on five occasions for San Diego (5-9), which was coming off an impressive win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Chargers totaled just 164 yards of offense for the game and scored their lone touchdown in fourth quarter on a Rivers pass to Antonio Gates.
Rivers finished with 121 yards passing on 16-of-23 efficiency in the loss.
"We never got a chance to really execute our offense. When the quarterback went back to throw, he was getting hit fairly regularly," Chargers coach Norv Turner said.
Carolina used a 13-play, 80-yard drive to open the scoring right away. After Newton's pass fell incomplete on 3rd-and-1 from the San Diego two, he scrambled for the necessary yard on fourth down before former Charger Mike Tolbert powered his way in for the score.
Tolbert, who rushed for 40 yards on the day, found the end zone again shortly thereafter following a Rivers fumble, punching in another 1-yard score to put Carolina ahead 14-0.
After the Chargers were forced three-and-out on their second touch, Carolina drove 72 yards on six plays to score its third touchdown of the period.
Newton completed a short pass to Greg Olsen for a first down before dumping one off to DeAngelo Williams, who scampered 45 yards for a touchdown to give the Panthers a commanding 21-0 lead with under a minute to play in the first quarter.
"We started fast," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "We gave ourselves opportunities early on in the game and we took advantage of a miscue to put points on the board right away. Once we did that, we really thought that, offensively, we could control the tempo a little bit."
Following a series of punts, Carolina got the ball back at its own 24 with 1:45 to go until halftime and managed to drive 61 yards to get into field-goal range. Newton completed six passes on the series to help set up Graham Gano for a 33-yard field goal, giving the Panthers a 24-0 edge at the break.
The Panthers scored for the final time on their first touch of the second half, as Newton fired a 4-yard touchdown strike to Smith to cap an 8-play, 56- yard drive. Williams amassed 31 yards rushing on the series to help set up the score.
San Diego finally put some points on the board early in the fourth. After Larry English recovered a Williams fumble, Rivers fired a 9-yard touchdown pass to Gates in the back corner of the end zone to give the Chargers their lone score of the day.
The TD reception was Gates' 81st of his career, tying him with Lance Alworth for most in team history.
Rivers had the Chargers in Carolina territory again later in the frame after completing a 30-yard pass to Malcolm Floyd, but a Mario Addison sack on the following play forced him to fumble for the fourth time, ending the potential scoring threat.
After the game, the Chargers announced that running back Ryan Mathews broke his left clavicle ... Newton has not thrown an interception in his last 153 passes, which is the longest stretch in franchise history for a Carolina quarterback. It is also the longest active streak in the NFL ... The Chargers have won just twice in their past 10 games ... Carolina had 29 first downs compared to just 12 for San Diego.