Dominant defense leaves time for dancing as Broncos defeat the Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
The pressure of it all finally seemed to catch up to Cam Newton, who provided a muffled and frustrated game for the Panthers, who were beaten 24-10 at Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara by the Denver Broncos. Newton was expected to trample the Broncos as he had done every other team; in Vegas, the game was reported as one of the most one-sided ever, with an overwhelming majority of betters going with the Panthers. Up until now, the most impressive aspect of Newton’s postseason dominance was how natural it all seemed to be. He brushed off even the biggest of tasks with a smile, a display of freakish athleticism and a “dab” to top it all off. That wasn’t to be at the biggest game of his career.
“It’s complicated. I wanted Broncos to win, but I also wanted Cam Newton to win,” said Brandon Major, Rutgers University student.
From the beginning, Newton showed his nervousness. After a few successful plays, most figured he was just settling into his stride, but the Denver defense made sure to be a very unsettling force. Newton’s old issue of throwing high, which hadn’t showed all season, seemed to be a prominent theme of his opening plays. The shaky start was punished by Von Miller, who stripped the ball from Newton before it was recovered for a touchdown. This play was pivotal, and set the tone for the rest of the game. The harder Newton and the Panthers worked, the easier it seemed for the Broncos defense to shut them down.
The offensive implosion wasn’t all from Newton, although his rare showing of inexperience seeped throughout the team’s play. Mike Tolbert, a fullback who hadn’t fumbled once all season, fumbled twice. Jericho Cotchery and Greg Olson dropped multiple passes, something they had no problem with before this game.
Where one young leader faded, another rose to a monumental occasion. Up until now, Von Miller, who was the second pick overall behind Newton at the NFL Draft in 2011, was often outshone by Newton’s postseason theatrics. The Broncos defense wasn’t the sort to make its confidence audible.
In a season dotted with injuries, the team knew to count their blessings. Those blessings came at critical times on Sunday thanks to Von Miller. The linebacker took the Panther’s season motto, “Keep Pounding,” right back to them. Miller was off the line quicker, running more willingly and tackling with more intent than anyone that tried to stop him. The display resulted in multiple sacks, something no other Broncos player has ever achieved. The linebacker ended the game as Super Bowl MVP, after stripping Newton in the first and last quarter, and commanding a defense that refused to be danced on.
During Media Week leading up to the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning was interviewed on his seemingly diminishing role in the Broncos team. Manning responded that he was still in the band, and although he wasn’t the lead singer, he could still sing a few solos. This perfectly embodies what Manning brings to a football team. Manning, who achieved his 200th all-time win, the most in history, with his Super Bowl win Sunday night, said he wants to be remembered as a good teammate.
The Broncos could have no quarrels with that request as he played the game with an understanding that he would have to let others own the limelight. Manning played his role with poise and experience, and although he didn’t have a memorable performance himself, he knew better than to let his own shortcomings affect the talent that the Broncos provided in other areas. It may not be his last dance, but Peyton Manning could safely retire as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.