Super Bowl 50 Review: Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers
By Loot, NFL Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Date: February 7, 2016
Site: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
Point Spread: Carolina Panthers by 5.5 points
Score: Denver Broncos 24, Carolina Panthers 10
MVP: Von Miller
The top two seeds from each conference once again met in Super Bowl 50. The two best teams in the league did battle and the game produced another surprise. For the AFC, it was Peyton Manning and the top-seeded Broncos—a team that abandoned its high-flying ways, becoming a team that relied on a league’s best defense. But in their way was a team that had lost only one game the entire season in the Carolina Panthers and their star quarterback Cam Newton.
The game was slow in spots and certainly not one of the more-intense Super Bowls on record. A Carolina offense that had been thriving leading up to the big game was stalled out by a crippling Denver defense, led by game MVP Von Miller. In the end, it was the calm veteran stewardship of Manning and the “D” that sewed up the big 24-10 win for the Broncos.
For the Broncos, it was a stirring triumph, with first-year head coach Gary Kubiak at the helm. With Kubiak a former backup to team prez John Elway, along with the veteran leadership of Manning, it was experience and smarts that helped the Broncos get over the hump against the favored Panthers. And it wasn’t easy, as the Broncos played a long stretch of the regular season without Manning, overcoming some tough stretches before rising to the top at the end of the day.
For the Panthers, it was a most-brutal defeat. Never did they really have the look of a winner at any point in the game. Entering the game as favorites and nearly being perfect up to this point didn’t seem to matter much in the game, where they struggled to gain any meaningful foothold, while providing few answers for the fearsome Broncos defense. But as a good young team with a lot of pieces in place, the Panthers can look forward to the future with some optimism.
Denver was able to get Manning back in the mix in the last half of the final regular game of the season. His playoff run was commendable, with a tough divisional win over the Steelers to open up their postseason. In the AFC Conference Championship, they faced a familiar foe in the New England Patriots. They escaped with a narrow 20-18 win.
The Carolina Panthers carried a 15-1 record into the postseason. A first round bye led to a divisional round win over the Seattle Seahawks, a rousing win over the two-time defending conference champion. In the NFC Conference Championship, the Panthers were able to knock off the St. Louis Cardinals, 49-15. It’s easy to see why there was so much optimism surrounding the Panthers entering Super Bowl 50.
Super Bowl 50 Recap
The game got off to a fast start. Denver took the opening kickoff and soon was in Carolina territory after Manning completed a pair of nice passes to Owen Daniels and Andre Caldwell. A few nice runs by CJ Anderson had Denver in the red zone, but the vaunted Carolina defense held firm with three strong defensive plays, forcing the Broncos to go for a field goal. Brandon McManus connected from 34 yards to make it 3-0.
Both teams punted, before the Panthers took over again. A completion to Jericho Cotchery was overturned and shortly thereafter, game MVP Von Miller knocked the ball loose from Panthers QB Cam Newton. The ball rolled toward the end zone, where Denver’s Malik Jackson fell on it for a touchdown. The Panthers now found themselves in a 10-0 hole.
Each team punted again, before Carolina was able to breathe some wind into their sails. Newton had what would be his only really productive drive of the entire game, completing a handful of passes to get Carolina close. Running back Jonathan Stewart would pound it in from a yard out to get Carolina back in it at 10-7. Then in a strange play, Denver’s Jordan Norwood fielded a punt. Carolina defenders, thinking Norwood had signaled for a fair catch, allowed him to scoot away for a 61-yard return all the way to the Carolina 14-yard line. The Panthers held firm, but another McManus field goal made it 13-7. The rest of the half saw the teams exchange turnovers, while not getting anything together on offense.
Carolina looked to take over to begin the second half and it looked like they were on their way to doing that. Cam Newton connected with Ted Ginn, Jr. for a 45-yard pass completion. But Denver’s defense clamped down and a Graham Cano 44-yard field goal missed, ending another frustrating sequence for the Panthers.
Manning took advantage and soon Denver found themselves moving downfield. Emmanuel Sanders hauled in catches of 25 and 22 yards, setting up McManus for his third field goal of the game—a 33-yarder that game Denver a 16-7 lead. That led to yet another promising Carolina drive that failed to yield any points. Newton hit Corey Brown for a 42-yard completion, but the fierce Broncos defense again answered the call. A pass came off the hands of Ginn, Jr., landing in the hands of Denver safety TJ Ward. The ball was fumbled by Ward, before being recovered by Danny Trevathan. The rest of the third quarter would sail by without much incident.
To begin the fourth quarter, the Broncos looked to mount another drive and were in Panthers’ territory. Panthers’ defensive end Kony Ealy was able to knock the ball loose from Manning, recovering it at the 50-yard line. A few plays later, Carolina was in field goal position and this time, Graham Cano was able to convert on a 39-yard kick to make it 16-10.
The fourth quarter began to wind down, with three straight drives resulting in punts. Carolina had the ball with under five minutes left and were in position to mount a game-winning drive. It went horribly wrong. On the Carolina 25-yard line on third down, Von Miller again was in Newton’s face, as he stripped the ball loose. TJ Ward recovered it and Denver was now in a good position, with any score making it a two-score game with time running low.
It was a bizarre play and when the ball was loose, Newton appeared to hesitate to dive on the ball, a play that earned him some criticism. Denver struggled to gain foothold, but a holding call gave them another set of downs and CJ Anderson was able to pound it in from 2 yards out. Bennie Fowler caught a two-point conversion to make it 24-10. Carolina was shut down in their ensuing two drives, as Denver claimed their third Super Bowl title. Did you know that you can bet on football games (and all other sports too!) from the comfort of your own home using your credit card? Enjoy wagering at one of the finest betting sites on the web --> Bovada Sportsbook.