Chargers future even more cloudy following latest loss

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The future has gone from bleak to bleaker for the San Diego Chargers.

The Chargers (5-8) came into Carolina looking to keep alive their slim playoff hopes, but instead their franchise quarterback Philip Rivers committed five turnovers and was sacked five times in a 28-16 loss to a Carolina Panthers team that had just been thoroughly whipped 40-7 by the Seattle Seahawks the week before.

Coach Mike McCoy called it ''a poor performance by our team.''

But the bad news doesn't end there.

The Chargers lost perhaps their best players on both sides of the ball as running back Melvin Gordon was carted off with a hip injury and budding young star pass rusher Joey Bosa injured his neck on a collision with Panthers QB Cam Newton. Neither Gordon nor Bosa returned.

The Chargers' overall future in San Diego remains in doubt as well, with the team considering relocating to Los Angeles if they can't reach a deal on a new stadium.

And then there's McCoy, who has found a place on the hot seat after what will almost certainly be the Chargers' third straight season without making the playoffs. The Chargers are 26-34 under McCoy, including a combined 9-20 the last two seasons.

There's even growing questions about Rivers, their normally reliable quarterback who suddenly seems to be aimlessly slinging the ball around the yard with reckless abandon, turning it over 12 times in the last four weeks.

''We're going to keep on fighting,'' McCoy said after the game. ''That's what we do in this business. We have the Raiders coming to town, so if that doesn't say enough to everybody, then you have the wrong people in your building.''

The rest of the season won't be easy if Gordon and Bosa are out.

Gordon was averaging 117.5 yards per game from scrimmage and had scored 12 touchdowns this season. If Gordon is done for the year, he'll finish 3 yards shy of 1,000 rushing for the season.

''He's a huge reason why we were in every game and had a chance to win,'' linebacker Kyle Emanuel said of Gordon.

Bosa had 6 + sacks in nine games despite sitting out the first four games of the season.

Gordon and Bosa join a growing list of Chargers who have found their way to the training room.

''It's just another guy you add to the list of impact players, and players who are going to help us,'' Rivers said. ''Obviously he's had a heck of a year.''

McCoy offered no update on either player after the game, but Rivers indicated he doesn't believe Gordon's injury to be too serious, saying ''I'm glad that is OK, in the sense of it's nothing too, too bad, I don't think.''

If nothing else, perhaps it was less painful that the Chargers didn't have to endure another heartbreaking defeat by virtue of a fourth-quarter meltdown. The Chargers entered the game having surrendered five fourth-quarter leads and have now lost three of their last four.

Before Sunday, the Chargers had led at some point in every game and never lost by more than eight points. But they were dominated by a Panthers team that was without 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly and playing behind a makeshift offensive line ravaged by injuries.

Winning games on a consistent basis has eluded the Chargers - particularly on the road, where they have lost 13 of their last 16.

Where the Chargers go from here remains to be seen.

At least one fan in Los Angeles said on social media he prefers that not be in Los Angeles.

David Crocker took to Twitter to write: ''Hey (at)Chargers, please stay in San Diego. One bad football team in L.A. is enough (at)RamsNFL''

---

For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.