In typical Peyton Manning fashion, the Broncos’ QB refused to disclose whether or not this was his final game when asked on the field following Denver’s triumph in Super Bowl 50. As Phil Simms stated in the broadcast, Manning would never dream of overshadowing his team’s victory with a retirement announcement. And although the legendary signal caller would have had every right to do so, it would’ve been wrong to steal the spotlight from his team’s defense, which was dominant all night, not to mention all season.
Following an opening 10-play, 64-yard drive, led by Manning and resulting in a field goal, the Broncos’ defense held the highly prolific Carolina offense to a three-and-out on their first possession. The next time the Panthers took the field with the ball, Von Miller nearly grabbed the ball right out of Cam Newton’s hands as he dropped back to pass from his own 15-yard line. It eventually popped loose and rolled towards the Panthers end zone before Malik Jackson dove on top of it to give Denver their first touchdown of the evening.
Miller, who would go on to win Super Bowl MVP, continued to cause problems for the Panthers all night. He would finish with 2.5 sacks and another forced fumble, but he and fellow pass rush specialist DeMarcus Ware, who himself had 2 sacks, put Cam Newton under pressure for the entire game. Although it looked like Carolina was starting to get something going in the second quarter when Jonathon Stewart finished off a 73-yard drive with an impressive leap into the end zone, they wouldn’t manage to do much more.
Brandon McManus tacked on another field goal for the Broncos to give them a 13-7 lead going into an energetic, and colorful, halftime performance by Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars. When play resumed in the third quarter, Manning and the Broncos’ offense looked pretty stagnant, but once again had their defense to fall back on. With the Panthers driving late in the third quarter, down just 16-7 at the time, T.J. Ward picked off a Cam Newton Pass intended for Ted Ginn Jr. at his own 10-yard line.
Things got interesting when Graham Gano buried a 39-yard field goal to cut Denver’s lead to 16-10 with just over ten minutes remaining on the clock. Manning, who finished 13 of 23 for just 141 yards and an interception, was unable to put the game away as the Broncos were forced to punt on two straight possessions.
Luckily for Denver, Von Miller was, and his second strip sack of the game couldn’t have come at a better time. He beat Panther’s Offensive Tackle Mike Remmers off the edge once again and swatted the ball out of Cam Newton’s hands as he was reaching back to throw downfield with only four minutes remaining. Denver eventually assumed possession of the loose ball at Carolina’s 4-yard line, and C.J. Anderson ran the ball in for a touchdown three plays later to wrap up a Super Bowl 50 win.
VON MILLER CANNOT BE STOPPED
— NFL (@NFL) February 8, 2016
All in all, nobody watched the offensive blowout many analysts predicted the Panthers would give us. We certainly weren’t alone in thinking that Peyton and co. would have trouble keeping up with the NFL’s highest scoring offense. But maybe we should have seen this coming; after all, defense does win championships. And without a doubt, the Denver Broncos’ defense won this one. You can also be sure that Peyton Manning won’t hesitate to point this out to reporters who try to center the focus on him.