It wasn’t the storybook ending or the exciting finish that everyone had hoped for….. The Carolina Panthers are no longer pounding, Cam Newton is no longer invincible, the Panther offense was humbled, the Panther defense was exposed, and head coach Ron Rivera is left scratching his head as to what happened at Levis Stadium on Sunday night. The Denver Broncos went into Santa Clara, California, put on a solid performance in front of 70,000 people, and walked out with the Vince Lombardi trophy after winning Super Bowl 50 24-10. The most interesting part about it is that Peyton Manning had very little to do with the outcome of the game.
While Manning ties his brother Eli with two Super Bowl rings, and ponders his future as a player, it was widely expected that Archie Manning’s second oldest son would garner most -if not all- of the attention. As the game wore on however that would not be the case. The Broncos came into this contest possessing the NFL’s No. 1 ranked defense. They spent the postseason running through an undermanned Pittsburgh Steelers offense, and sealed their trip to the Bay Area by eliminating the New England Patriots. They did so by making Tom Brady look like a practice squad player.
The Panthers however were supposed to present a challenge with their fast paced offense led by mobile quarterback Cam Newton who just 24 hours earlier was named both the 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player, and the AP Offensive Player of the Year. But no challenge has ever been too big for the Denver “D” this season and they showed that on Sunday. Here are the five main reasons why Denver was so dominant on the Super Bowl’s 50th anniversary…..
5. Stopping Carolina’s run game.
It didn’t matter if it was Cam Newton running the option (or rolling out), Jonathan Stewart running downhill, or Mike Tolbert trying to plow through defenders on the fullback dive. None of it worked. The Panthers were held to just 118 total rushing yards on Super Sunday. Sure their only touchdown came from Stewart’s one-yard leap of faith at the goalline in the second quarter, but that was the end result of a foolish face mask penalty on the Bronco defense. Carolina only averaged 4.4 yards per carry, and not helping matters was Newton and Tolbert combining for four fumbles.
As much credit as defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense gets for rushing the passer, his schemes against the run are just as effective.
4. Stopping Cam Newton
Super Bowl 50 started off as an historic occasion for Newton. Just one day after winning both the 2015 MVP and Offensive Player of the Year awards, he became just the sixth African-American quarterback to start in the Super Bowl -and the third consecutive black quarterback behind Colin Kapernick (Super Bowl XLVII) and Russell Wilson (XLVIII and XLIX). But his moment in the sun was short lived as the Denver defense came at him from every direction. They wore down the Carolina offensive line as they sacked Newton six times, forced him to throw an interception, and limited him to 310 total yards and 18 pass completions. The Panthers offense begins and ends with Newton and when you take him out of the game, their offense can’t move.
3. The Denver Broncos secondary
The defensive backfield for the Broncos should get just as much credit as the front seven. Even when Newton did have time to throw, his receivers were covered like glue down field. The Broncos DB’s accounted for eight of the teams 10 pass deflections on the night, and safety T.J. Ward was responsible for Newton’s interception. A good job all across the board.
2. DeMarcus Ware
He’s one of the main reasons why Denver won it’s third Super Bowl title Sunday night. Five tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks, and four quarterback hits. Enough said.
1. Von Miller
Miller became just the 10th defensive player to win the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award and with good reason. Aside from the six tackles, 2 1/2 sacks, two quarterback hits and one pass deflection, Miller forced the Cam Newton fumble that led to Denver’s first touchdown of the game. He also forced another crucial fumble later in the game, embarrassed Carolina’s offensive line, and was flat out unstoppable. Miller is one of the premiere players in the game today.
So if this was Peyton Manning’s last game he gets to go out on top as every player wants to. Head coach Gary Kubiak finally gets his first taste of Super Bowl glory, Wade Phillips builds up his resume for a hopeful Hall of Fame bid, and Hall of Famer John Elway has now won the big game as both a player and executive. Denver rules the football world now, but come 2016 they’ll go from being the hunter to the hunted.