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The Denver Broncos took the lead in the first quarter here at Levi’s Stadium, kept the lead and beat the vaunted Carolina Panthers, 24-10.
The best defense in the NFL went to work on Cam Newton and his offense — and showed them how to play football.
The Panthers won the toss and deferred to the second half. The Broncos opened the game with Andre Caldwell’s 18-yard return, and Peyton Manning drove down to field goal range. Brandon McManus kicked up the first three Super Bowl points.
The Panthers became acquainted with punt out city, where they would set up residence for most of the game. They were stymied by the Bronco defense, and their high scoring quarterback, Cam Newton, was caged unable to get to the end zone.
On the Panthers’ next possession, after an unsuccessful challenge on an incomplete pass, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton lost the ball on a strip fumble generated by linebacker Von Miller, and defensive end Bronco Malik Jackson took it in for the touchdown to make the score 10-0.
The Panthers managed to mount a drive to the Bronco red zone on a 32-yard pass from Newton to wide receiver Philly Brown, and Panther running back Jonathan Stewart literally dove into the end zone to make the score 10-7. (This would be the Panthers’ only touchdown of the game.)
In the second quarter Cam Newton got sacked for the third time and went back to punt out city.
On their next possession Bronco Jordan Norwood set a Super Bowl record with a 61-yard punt return, and Brandon McManus kicked a 33-yard field goal to make the score 13-7.
Halftime score is Broncos 13, Panthers 7 —this despite a fumble on the part of the Panthers and an interception thrown by Manning. By the end of the first half Newton had been sacked four times, the last one to end the half by Demarcus Ware.
The Panthers opened the second half with a failed 44-yard field goal attempt by Graham Gano. The ball went wide right, hit the upright and bounced right.
The Broncos answered with a 33-yard Brandon McManus kick that upped the score to 16-7.
The rest of the third quarter saw back to back sacks of Peyton Manning and Cam Newton (Newton’s fifth sack) The end of the quarter saw the Panthers score on a strip fumble of Manning after which Gano kicked a 39-yard field goal to make the score 16-10.
The Broncos and the Panthers went back to punt out city as the two teams battled the clock. As the fourth quarter was winding down, Newton fumbled with some help from Danny Trevathan, and C.J. Anderson punched through a touchdown on third and goal. Bennie Fowler made the two point conversion, and the score went to 24-10. Newton’s reaction to this fumble put a spotlight on the Panthers’ inability to take the game “inexperience” on a Super Bowl level. Newton did not try to go after the ball when it popped loose on the field and drew back as the Bronco defense chased and recovered it.
The Panthers struggled as the clock ran out, and Newton was sacked for the sixth time by Demarcus Ware, so the Broncos won Super Bowl 50.
Again, it wasn’t pretty; it was a struggle — no high flying offense, but in the end, like almost every game Broncos have won this season, defense clicked and offense hung on and won.
Both teams quarterbacks were held in check by defense. Manning’s passes were batted down, and he was sacked two times. He also was strip fumbled. He threw one interception and failed to pass for a touchdown. Newton passed for 265 yards, rushed for 45 yards no touchdowns and one interception. He suffered two major strip fumbles and six sacks.
Bronco offensive linebacker Von Miller was voted the game’s Most Valuable Player.
The trophy goes home to the team’s ailing owner, Pat Bowlen. “This is for Pat,” shouted team manager John Elway as he waved the Super Bowl trophy.
The Broncos finished the season with a 15-4 record. The Panthers concluded with a 17-2 record. The Broncos are to play the Panthers at home next season. Schedules will be announced in April, according to the NFL.
Peyton Manning set a record 200 wins and is a two-time Super Bowl Champion playing for two different teams. Was this a good game for Manning? He only passed for 141 yards and no touchdowns. But he played a smart game, held his team together and helped them grind out the biggest win of all.
Will Peyton be back next year?? Manning was very cagey with the press when they pushed him for an answer. He articulated something about going home, kissing his wife and kids and drinking some beer with Von Miller paying the tab before considering the issue.
The Denver Broncos Championship Parade kicks off at noon Tuesday as Denver Rocks Out! Other celebration events are scheduled that day.