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Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) fends off San Diego Chargers' Jarret Johnson (96) in the first half at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday, December 16, 2012, in San Diego, California. (David T. Foster III/Charlotte Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
It is finished. With the Chargers 31-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers they can officially, without a shadow of a doubt, not make the postseason.
The way they played, one would think they’d lost the chance before the game started.
Carolina scored 21 points on their first three drives.
Opening drive they marched down the field with a few quick passes to the sidelines that cornerback Antoine Cason could do nothing against.
On fourth and one from the two-yard line Panthers quarterback Cam Newton kept the ball for a QB keep long enough for the first down.
One first and goal, a ex-Charger got the ball. Running back Mike Tolbert punched the ball in from the one and did his signature endzone dance. When he was in San Diego, the fans loved it.
Today, it was an instrument of torture.
Tolbert scored another touchdown for Carolina on the ensuing drive.
The Panther’s next drive ended in what should have been a botched play for Carolina but running back DeAngelo Williams turned it into a 45-yard touchdown run.
To add insult to injury, kicker Graham Gano kicked a field goal to end the half.
On the Chargers side of the ball, they did nothing.
The halftime score was 24-0 Panthers.
The Chargers received the ball to kick off the second half, but again, did nothing. After three and out it was Newton and his team that scored again.
This time it was a short pass to wide receiver Steve Smith. With the extra point it was 31-0.
The only consolation for the few Chargers’ fans at Qualcomm on Sunday was the two pieces of team history made.
Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips recorded his 68th sack. He passed Gary ‘Big Hand’s Johnson. He leads the team in sacks with eight on the season.
The other piece of history, tight end Antonio Gates caught the Chargers lone touchdown on the day.
In the fourth quarter, quarterback Philip Rivers found Gates in the back of the end zone. It was his 81st career touchdown and he tied Lance Alworth for the most touchdowns caught by a Charger.