SANTA CLARA – Five observations from Denver's 24-10 victory over Carolina in Super Bowl 50: Going out in style?
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has had better days. His stats weren't pretty in Super Bowl 50 – he completed 13-of-23 passes for 141 yards, with no touchdowns and an interception — and he didn't make many highlight reel throws. But Manning got the job done for the Broncos, and he outdueled New England's Tom Brady and Carolina's Cam Newton to close out the season. Manning now has two Super Bowl rings. If his career is in fact over, he went out with a proud moment.
Cam produced a dud
Cam Newton was spectacular all season, and earned every award he received along the way. But he didn't perform well on Sunday, and the expression on his face after the game told the story. Newton hardly spoke at his post-game presser, and left after just a few minutes. Newton completed just 18-of-41 passes in the game for 265 yards, with no touchdowns and an interception. He was off target on a number of throws. Needless to say, he didn't do much dabbing.
Defensive still wins championships
The Broncos treated Newton like a piñata. Newton was sacked six times in the game, and he was hit time and again. Newton had the ball knocked out of his hands on two separate occasions, and by game's end he looked like a beaten down player with little swagger. Broncos linebacker Von Miller was named the game's MVP after recording 2.5 sacks, six tackles and two forced fumbles. He was a force. The performance on defense allowed the Broncos to win on a night when they gained just 194 yards – the fewest ever for a victorious team in the Super Bowl.
Carolina's mistakes were costly
The Panthers led the NFL in 2015 in turnover margin, but they killed themselves with mistakes on the game's biggest stage. The Panthers lost three fumbles, and also threw an interception. They allowed the longest punt return in Super Bowl history (a 61-yarder by Denver's Jordan Norwood) that set up a score. The Panthers also missed a field goal. After playing mistake-free football during the season, the Panthers did themselves in. And that's not counting all the dropped passes.
Excellent in defeat
Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy stood at his locker and was gracious in defeat. He answered every question, but was stinging after a loss in Super Bowl 50. Ealy turned in an MVP-type performance in the contest, racking up three sacks and an interception. Like Miller was for the Broncos, he was a disruptive force throughout. It was a heck of an individual performance on a night when the Panthers played well on defense, but not good enough as a team.
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