Backed by their defense, the Denver Broncos won their third championship in franchise history Sunday, defeating the Carolina Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl 50.
|Super Bowl 50 Scoring Breakdown|
|1st Quarter||2nd Quarter||3rd Quarter||4th Quarter||Final|
|Box Score for Notable Players|
|Peyton Manning, Denver||13/23||141||0||1|
|Cam Newton, Carolina||18/41||265||0||1|
|C.J. Anderson, Denver||23||90||1||3.9|
|Ronnie Hillman, Denver||5||0||0||0.0|
|Jonathan Stewart, Carolina||12||29||1||2.4|
|Cam Newton, Carolina||6||45||0||7.5|
|Fozzy Whittaker, Carolina||4||26||0||6.5|
|Mike Tolbert, Carolina||5||18||0||3.6|
|Owen Daniels, Denver||2||1||18||0|
|Andre Caldwell, Denver||1||1||22||0|
|Emmanuel Sanders, Denver||8||6||83||0|
|Greg Olsen, Carolina||9||4||41||0|
|Corey Brown, Carolina||7||4||80||0|
|C.J. Anderson, Denver||4||4||10||0|
|Jerricho Cotchery, Carolina||5||2||17||0|
|Demaryius Thomas, Denver||6||1||8||0|
|Ted Ginn Jr, Carolina||10||4||74||0|
|Fozzy Whittaker, Carolina||1||1||14||0|
|Brandon McManus, Denver||3||3||34||10|
|Graham Gano, Carolina||1||2||39||4|
Defense, Super Bowl MVP Von Miller Win Championship
Denver's offense was anything but super. The Panthers outgained the Broncos 315-194, and Denver's offensive output was the lowest of any Super Bowl winner, gaining fewer yards than the Baltimore Ravens' 244 in Super Bowl XXXV, per NFL Network's Bill Smith.
But the defense was super, and so was linebacker Von Miller. The Broncos forced the Panthers to commit four turnovers, and the defense had a direct hand in both of the team's touchdowns.
The first was a fumble recovery by Malik Jackson, who picked up a loose ball that was stripped out of Newton's hands by Miller in the end zone for a touchdown, as the NFL showed:
It gave Denver an early 10-0 lead, which was all it needed in Super Bowl 50.
A second touchdown came in the fourth quarter with the Broncos nursing a six-point lead. With Carolina deep in Denver territory, Miller sacked and stripped Newton again, and T.J. Ward recovered inside the 5-yard line.
The NFL showed the replay of Miller's second forced fumble:
It led to a two-yard touchdown by running back C.J. Anderson.
Miller finished the day with six tackles and 2.5 sacks to go with the two forced fumbles.
Most importantly, the Broncos held the Panthers to 10 points, their lowest output of the entire season. Newton, the league's MVP, couldn't get on the scoreboard on Super Bowl Sunday. It was the only time this season that he did not record a touchdown.
Carolina's Uncharacteristic Slow Start Doomed It
Heading into Super Bowl 50, the Panthers were jumping on their opponents early and often in the playoffs. In their first two postseason games, Carolina outscored its opponents 55-7 during the first half.
On Sunday, though, the Panthers were able to muster only seven points in the first half. Those points came 18 minutes, 35 seconds into the game, per ESPN Stats & Info, which was the second-longest amount of time it took the Panthers to score all season.
In the first quarter, they gained just 28 yards, their lowest output of the season per SportsCenter.
Newton looked uneasy in the pocket while Denver's defense had him constantly on his toes and on his back, which showed in his 18-of-41 line. Denver sacked him seven times for 68 yards.
The Broncos hit him even more, as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe showed:
According to ESPN's Bill Barnwell, Carolina's win expectancy went from 54 percent to 26 percent after its poor first quarter.
Allowing Denver's defense to get off to a fast start gave the Broncos plenty of confidence to stay aggressive and go after Newton and the Panthers offense.
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Peyton Can Ride Off into the Sunset
Manning didn't confirm he will retire after clinching his second Super Bowl ring, but it did give him a chance for a storybook ending.
His win in Super Bowl 50 gave him 200 for his career in the regular season and postseason combined, the most in NFL history.
He didn't have a great game, going 13-of-23 for 141 yards and an interception. That pick could have been costly, too, as it came inside the Panthers' 25-yard line with the Broncos holding on to a 13-7 lead.
The NFL showed a replay of his turnover:
His arm is not what it used to be, and he wasn't able to fit those tough throws into tight windows. But Manning did manage the game well.
He navigated the Broncos into the red zone three times, which resulted in nine points, and held on to the ball for more than 27 minutes. The more time the ball was in the Broncos' hands, the less time that Newton and the Panthers had to ignite their offense.
Could the Broncos have won this Super Bowl with another quarterback? Absolutely. But Manning's win in Super Bowl 50 could be the perfect finish to an almost perfect career.
Stats courtesy of ESPN.com.