Super Bowl 50 came down to the team with the best defence against the team with the best offence – and the defensive team where the victors. The Denver Broncos starved the Carolina Panthers, nullifying the offensive power of Cam Newton, and inevitably defeated them 10-24.
In a game that saw a total of twelve sacks, five to the Panthers and seven to the Broncos, fittingly the Super Bowl MVP was awarded to Broncos’ outside linebacker Von Miller. Miller was devastating, sacking Cam Newton 2.5 times. And it was his sack with less than five minutes remaining that secured victory for the Broncos and the MVP. The sack handed the Broncos the ball on the Panthers’ four yard line and resulted in a C.J. Anderson touchdown and a two-point conversion which eliminated any chance of a late Panthers’ come back.
While the Broncos’ opening drive for the game resulted in a field goal, the scene was set half way through the first quarter when Newton was sacked by Von Miller on the Panthers four yard line. The ball spilled free and was pounced on by Malik Jackson for a touchdown, putting the Broncos 0-10 in front.
— William Hill Aus (@WillHillAus) February 8, 2016
The Panthers looked shaky throughout the first quarter as Newton struggled to complete passes, partly because of the tight coverage provided by the Denver defence, but also as a consequence of some wayward throws.
However, it wasn’t long into the second quarter when we began to see the Panthers offence fire when Jonathon Stewart jumped straight over the top of the Broncos defensive line for a one yard touchdown. This was set up by Cam Newton who twice opted to rush the football forward during the drive. This was a part of the Panthers’ offence that was missing in the first quarter with Newton seemingly more content on sitting in the pocket and relying on the protection of his offensive line.
— Mark the Overseer (@MarkoftheBuzz) February 8, 2016
Likewise, despite a 61 yard Denver punt return that was the longest in Super Bowl history placing the Broncos on the Carolina 14 yard line, the Panthers were able to stop three attempts by C.J. Anderson to run the ball into the end-zone and the Broncos had to instead settle for another field goal.
The longest punt return in Super Bowl history: pic.twitter.com/gtvGQW8qw4
— KNBR (@KNBR) February 8, 2016
It was at this point that the game truly became a battle between each team’s defensive units. And with the exception of a C.J. Anderson 34 yard run where he managed to shrug off several Carolina defenders, both team’s defence dominated. This resulted in Manning being both intercepted and sacked by Kony Ealy during the quarter, and being unable to find any way to convert on 3rd down. Likewise, the quarter closed when Newton was sacked by DeMarcus Ware which halted the Panthers attempt to get within field goal range before end of the half.
Early in the third quarter the Panthers again looked strong when Newton twice found Ted Ginn during their first drive of the half; first with a 45 yard pass up middle that saw Ginn take the catch in-front of two Broncos defenders, and the second a 14 yard pass to the right. The plays helped get the Panthers to within in field goal range, however Graham Gano missed the kick and the Panthers remained six points behind the Broncos.
40 yard catch and run by Ted Ginn https://t.co/Lfgx1Z9jlI
— tOSU Recruiting (@tOSURecruiting) February 8, 2016
And despite the Broncos finding their way into the end zone thanks to a pass to Emmanual Sanders that resulted in a 22 yard gain, the Panthers again forced the Broncos to opt for a field goal, although they now found themselves nine points in front.
The rest of the quarter saw each side wrestle for any sort of offensive advantage, but each team’s defence units remained in charge. Newton had one pass intercepted and was again sacked, this time by Derek Wolf and Von Miller, and he struggled to find options up the field that would result in completed passes. Likewise, Jonathon Stewart was rendered ineffective as he was unable to find any passage through the Broncos offensive line. However, Denver had their own woes with Manning again being sacked, this time by Kony Ealy, and they were still unable to find any way convert on 3rd down.
Super Bowl 50 refers to the number of turnovers
— O. Wang (@oliverswang) February 8, 2016
The final quarter started in similar fashion when Kony Ealy managed to get a hand to Manning’s throwing arm, causing the ball to spill free which he then pounced on for a turnover. At the time, this felt as though it may have turned the tide for the Panthers, however the Broncos restricted them to a field goal meaning they still remained six points behind.
The Broncos to their credit never panicked and seemed content on allowing their defence to force Carolina to make errors. It proved an effective tactic as Von Miller again sacked Newton which resulted in turnover on the Carolina 4 yard line. It was this play by Von Miller that sealed the game for the Broncos, and Miller’s MVP. The resulting touchdown and two point conversion left the Panthers 14 points behind with only three minutes left on the clock.
Von Miller = Cam Kryptonite
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) February 8, 2016
The Broncos win was a fitting tribute for what may well be the Peyton Manning’s final game. Despite not being his best performance or season, the team rallied around him and they deserved the victory.
As for Cam Newton and the Panthers, perhaps it was inexperience that lost them the game. There were several errors made by Newton and we didn’t see him make many of his characteristic plays from outside the pocket. But despite this, it seems safe to say that we’ll see Cam Newton on the field in future Super Bowls.