According to ESPN Stats & Info, Talib committed three penalties in the first half. It was his highest total in a single game all season, and Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle put the performance in perspective: "Aqib Talib penalties in regular season: 11. Today: 3."
The first penalty was a 15-yard taunting when he jawed back and forth with Panthers wide receiver Corey Brown. TheScore provided a glimpse of the proceedings:
VIDEO: Hey, Aqib Talib...was that taunting penalty REALLY worth it? https://t.co/TH9l18odwu https://t.co/xeX8zxyKmK2/8/2016, 12:28:38 AM
Brown was also involved in the cornerback's second penalty. The Carolina wideout caught a pass inside the 10-yard line, and Talib grabbed his facemask as he made the tackle. The Cauldron captured the play.
That set up an easy touchdown for the Panthers, and Talib jumped offside on the ensuing extra point for his third penalty.
Kevin Negandhi of ESPN reacted to Talib's start:
Kevin Negandhi @KNegandhiESPN
The real battle right now is between Talib and the commercials. Which one can turn their night around?2/8/2016, 12:37:50 AM
Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk noted Talib's Super Bowl would have been particularly short had NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell already modified the rulebook:
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to institute a new rule that would result in an automatic ejection for any player who gets two personal fouls in a game. Under that rule, Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib would have been ejected early in the second quarter of Super Bowl 50.
After the win, Talib told reporters the flags on him were "BS" and he committed the second one on purpose.
Sunday wasn't the first time Talib pushed the boundaries of the rules this season. He made headlines during the 2015 campaign when he was suspended one game for an eye gouge against Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen.
While Talib didn't look like it early in Sunday's game, he is one of the better cornerbacks in the league. The three-time Pro Bowler has 30 interceptions on his resume and helped the Broncos defense finish first in the league against the pass.
Fortunately for Talib and Denver's defense, the 29-year-old was not ejected and factored into Denver's dominant defensive performance Sunday with five tackles and two passes defended. League MVP Cam Newton didn't even register a single touchdown, and the Broncos as a whole held Carolina to a measly 10 points.
Talib reached the NFL's mountaintop alongside his teammates Sunday in another Pro Bowl season. Perhaps one of the few questions surrounding his immediate and bright future is how officials will deal with him next season and beyond. Although he didn't commit many penalties during the regular season, he also earned major headlines with the eye gouge and his early penalties in the Super Bowl.
Playing defensive back in the pass-happy NFL is difficult enough as it is without officials watching even closer than usual. Talib will likely need to be wary of that in 2016 as the Broncos look to defend their crown.