The Carolina Panthers ended San Diego Chargers play-off hopes on Sunday
San Diego Chargers' slim play-off hopes were extinguished by Mike Tolbert, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
Last Updated: 18/12/12 8:00am
Tolbert scored twice against his former team and DeAngelo Williams turned a tipped pass from Cam Newton into a 45-yard touchdown reception.
Carolina (5-9) won consecutive games for the first time since last December.
The Chargers (5-9) will miss the playoffs for the third straight season and clinched their first losing season since 2003, when they were an NFL-worst 4-12.
Tolbert, who left San Diego as a free agent in March, capped Carolina's first two drives with 1-yard scoring runs. His second TD was set up when Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers lost a fumble.
After forcing the Chargers to punt, the Panthers needed six plays to go 72 yards and take a 21-0 lead. On second-and-10 from the Chargers 45, Newton's pass was tipped by Jarret Johnson. Williams plucked it out of the air and took it all the way in for a touchdown.
The Panthers piled on with Graham Gano's 33-yard field goal with six seconds before halftime and Newton's 4-yard scoring pass to Steve Smith midway through the third quarter for a 31-0 lead.
The only bright spot for the Chargers came when Antonio Gates tied Hall of Famer Lance Alworth's club record with his 81st career touchdown catch, a 9-yarder from Rivers in the fourth quarter. Gates just got his second foot down before going out of bounds.
Gates' TD allowed the Chargers to avoid their first shutout since a 34-0 loss at Kansas City on October 31, 1999, a span of 211 regular-season games.