Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are going to Super Bowl 50. On Sunday, the likely league MVP led his team to a 49-15 rout of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers will face the Denver Broncos after the latter upset the New England Patriots, 20-18, in the AFC Championship Game.
Newton made history by becoming the first man in the Super Bowl era to throw for 300-plus yards and run for multiple touchdowns, per ESPN.com's David Newton, but it wasn't just the dynamic signal-caller who performed well on the Carolina side.
The Panthers also forced seven turnovers and scored a touchdown on a pick-six by linebacker Luke Kuechly. Here's a look at the highlights from the game, courtesy of NFL.com:
Cam's Rise and Carson's Fall
While Cam Newton was solidifying his place among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, Carson Palmer was adding fuel to the fire for those who doubted his ability to come up big in the clutch.
Palmer tossed four interceptions and lost two fumbles in a dreadful performance. Per the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN.com), his six turnovers tied the all-time record for a postseason game. He hadn't led a team to a playoff win prior to the Cardinals' tight victory over the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round.
On Sunday against the Panthers, he was at his worst at the most inopportune time.
Newton is nearly a lock to win the league MVP award after leading Carolina to a 15-1 regular-season record. While playoff performance isn't supposed to have any bearing on the award, Newton's play Sunday validated him as the player who is most deserving.
Looking Ahead to the Super Bowl
Peyton Manning and a nasty Denver Broncos defense await the Panthers in Super Bowl 50, but don't expect head coach Ron Rivera's team to be intimidated. The Panthers' postseason run has dispelled any talk that their record was the product of a soft schedule.
With a diverse run game that features Newton and Jonathan Stewart, the Carolina offense might be able to slow down the Broncos pass rush.
The Panthers defense might not be as dominant as Denver's, but it's no picnic to face. Newton and his teammates have proved they are capable of winning any style of game, and if Denver's defense plays the way it did Sunday, we might have a low-scoring battle coming our way in the Super Bowl.