Panthers vs. Chargers final score: Tolbert, Newton lead Carolina easily past San Diego

Donald Miralle

Cam Newton and Mike Tolbert combine to put the Chargers away early and coast to a dominating, 31-7, victory.

Cam Newton passed for 231 yards and two touchdowns and Mike Tolbert rushed for two more as the Carolina Panthers got ahead of the San Diego Chargers early and never looked back on their way to a dominating, 31-7 victory Sunday afternoon.

Tolbert got the Panthers out to a quick first-quarter lead with two rushing touchdowns to cap each of Carolina's first two drives. Newton then added his first touchdown strike of the day on the Panthers' next drive to put Carolina up 21 points before the first quarter even ended.

After their first drive ended on a fumble, the Chargers couldn't put together any offense at all during the first three quarters on Sunday, going nearly 50 minutes without a score before DeAngelo Williams' fumble near the end of the third quarter set the Chargers up to score.

Five plays later, Antonio Gates hauled in a 9-yard pass from Philip Rivers for San Diego's only touchdown of the night. Gates's score was the 80th of his Chargers career, tying the franchise's all-time record.

Steve Smith added a touchdown reception for the Panthers in the third quarter, the Panthers' only other touchdown after their offensive explosion to start the game Sunday.

Rivers finished with 121 yards and that one touchdown strike, while the Panthers contained the Chargers' offense all day — with only one San Diego rusher or receiver gaining more than 50 yards of offense. Running back Curtis Brinkley gained a combined 56 yards of offense after running back Ryan Mathews had to leave the game with a shoulder injury for the Chargers.

Fantasy studs and duds

Cam Newton's strong day through the air negated a somewhat underwhelming performance on the ground as Newton contributed two scores and plenty of passing yards. Mike Tolbert's two scores were also a good performance for the running back despite only 40 yards rushing.

Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates combined for the Chargers' only touchdown, but neither was especially strong on the day, a theme across the Chargers' offensive output.

Injury report

Chargers running back Ryan Mathews left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return.

Did they cover?

San Diego was a three-point favorite at home, but were bested by well more than four touchdowns on Sunday.

What's next?

The Panthers will take on the Oakland Raiders in Week 16 while the Chargers will fly across the country to take on the New York Jets. Both games are 1 p.m. ET Sunday-afternoon showdowns.

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