NFL News & Analysis

SD-CAR grades: Short, Addison shine on Panthers' defensive line

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 11: Mario Addison #97 of the Carolina Panthers sacks Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers in the end zone for a safety during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 11, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Carolina Panthers 28, San Diego Chargers 16

Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from the Carolina Panthers' 28-16 Week 14 victory over the San Diego Chargers.

Carolina Panthers

Quarterback grade: Cam Newton, 45.2

Cam Newton struggles with accuracy

Cam Newton didn’t have a great day at the office. Newton had a difficult time connecting with his receivers, and only completed one of his four deep passes (targeted beyond 20 yards downfield). Newton was most successful throwing to the intermediate level (10-19 yards) outside the right numbers, where he completed four of his five attempts. His QB rating dropped from 67.7 with no pressure to 39.6 when under pressure. Newton only carried the ball six times on designed runs, and only provided 15 yards after contact.

Cam Newton vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

HB Jonathan Stewart, 82.3

TE Greg Olsen, 79.0

G Andrew Norwell, 78.7

G Chris Scott, 74.9 

WR Devin Funchess, 74.7

Panthers’ ground game was a deciding factor

The Panthers didn’t generate impressive rushing statistics as a team, but stayed committed to the run and were able to grind out the necessary yards on the ground to get the win. Jonathan Stewart had to generate plays with little help from the offensive line, as he rushed for 66 yards but was so routinely hit at or behind the line of scrimmage that he provided 79 yards rushing after contact. Stewart was able to force nine missed tackles and was the key performer for the Panthers’ offense, even though his 66 yards rushing stat line won’t show it. Greg Olsen caught four of his seven targets and provided 34 yards after the catch; Cam Newton’s QB rating when targeting Olsen was 101.5

Top defensive grades: 

S Kurt Coleman, 91.2

ED Mario Addison, 87.0

DI Kawann Short, 86.7

LB Shaq Thompson, 84.6

LB Thomas Davis, 82.8

Addison, Short impressive on Carolina defensive line

The Panthers had good game performances on all three levels of their defense. On the line, Mario Addison had an impressive one sack and 11 hurries on his 27 pass-rushing snaps. Kawann Short continues to be an interior disruptor and had two sacks, two hits, and four hurries on his 38 pass-rushing snaps. Linebacker Shaq Thompson had a very impressive break on a route to intercept a pass from Rivers, and only allowed three catches for 15 yards on the day. Rivers' QB rating when throwing into Shaq Thompson’s coverage was only 40.6. Safety Kurt Coleman was able to intercept one pass and break up another.

San Diego Chargers

Quarterback grade: Philip Rivers, 50.5

Turnovers a major problem for Rivers

Philip Rivers’s game was marred by turnovers. He fumbled the ball twice and threw three interceptions against the Panthers. Rivers was at his best throwing to the intermediate level (10–19 yards downfield), where he completed five of eight passes, including both of his touchdown passes.

Philip Rivers vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

WR Dontrelle Inman, 80.0 

OT Joe Barksdale, 73.4 

WR Tyrell Williams, 69.6 

TE, Sean McGrath, 69.3

OT Chris Hairston, 67.4 

Chargers’ offensive line fails to protect Philip Rivers

The Chargers’ offensive line did not have a solid performance. Philip Rivers was pressured on 12 of his 32 dropbacks, including losing fumbles on two strip-sacks. The Chargers’ running game was also lacking, as they only generated 58 rushing yards, with 45 of those yards coming after the ball carrier was contacted by a defender. Dontrelle Inman caught six of his seven targets, including one touchdown; Rivers had a QB rating of 148.5 when targeting Inman.

Top defensive grades:

CB Casey Hayward, 85.0

ED Melvin Ingram, 80.4

LB Denzel Perryman, 78.4

DI Tenny Palepoi, 77.2

LB Jatavis Brown, 77.2 

Chargers’ defense plays admirably in loss

The Chargers’ defense did not play as poorly as the score would indicate, as the amount of times their offense turned the ball over to the Panthers’ proved to be too much to overcome. Casey Hayward broke up both the passes thrown into his coverage. Melvin Ingram had five hurries on his 28 pass-rushing snaps, and also added two run stops. Denzel Perryman added four run stops and one QB hurry. Joey Bosa was once again turning in a dominant performance prior to leaving the game with an injury, as he had one sack and two hurries on his 16 pass-rushing snaps.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Kurt Coleman, S, Panthers

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

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