Devastating Denver defense seals Super Bowl 50 glory for Manning and Broncos
A magnificent defensive performance ensured victory for the Denver Broncos in what was likely Peyton Manning’s last game with a 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
The Broncos had suffocated the defending champions, the New England Patriots, in the AFC Championship game to reach the season-ending showpiece.
And they did the same to a Panthers team that had previously seemed unstoppable, clinching a third Super Bowl title with their win at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Sunday.
An early Brandon McManus field goal and Von Miller’s strip sack of Cam Newton, which was recovered by Malik Jackson for a touchdown, gave Denver a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and allowed the Broncos to put the strain on their defense instead of the arm of Manning.
League MVP Cam Newton led the Panthers on a drive that finished with Jonathan Stewart ploughing in to make it 10-7 but that was as good as it got for Carolina.
Newton was sacked six times while the Panthers committed four turnovers, with Miller’s second strip sack of Newton enabling C.J. Anderson to score Denver’s only offensive touchdown and secure a second Super Bowl title for Manning at the end of his worst NFL season.
Manning did not need long to get into rhythm as he quickly led the Broncos into Panthers territory, however, he was lucky not be intercepted by Robert McClain as Carolina held firm to force Denver into a field goal that McManus converted from 34 yards.
Denver struck the game’s first significant blow thanks to outside linebacker Miller, who burst off the edge to blow by Mike Remmers and strip Newton, with Jackson there to pounce on the ball in the end zone.
Newton eventually found his groove to cut the deficit to three points, with two runs and big completions to Greg Olsen and Philly Brown – plus a facemask call on Aqib Talib – setting the Panthers up on the Broncos’ one-yard line, allowing Stewart to dive over at the end of a 73-yard drive.
Denver looked set to restore their 10-point advantage when a Super Bowl-record 61-yard punt return from Jordan Norwood put the Broncos back in the red zone, but again the Panthers held to bring on McManus for his second three-pointer.
While having more success in moving the ball, the Panthers continued to commit errors and handed the Broncos another opportunity when Mike Tolbert’s fumble was recovered by Danny Trevathan, only for Manning to waste good field position after a long Anderson run by throwing an interception to Kony Ealy.
The Panthers were unable to add to their points tally before half-time and came up short again on the first series of the second half, Graham Gano’s field goal bouncing off the upright after Newton had found Ted Ginn Jr. for a pair of completions.
Manning immediately capitalised, twice hitting Emmanuel Sanders for big gains to set up another McManus field goal.
Newton then found Brown for 42 yards but just four plays later was intercepted by T.J. Ward as a pass flew through the hands of Ginn.
Ward subsequently fumbled but Trevathan was alert to the danger and dived on the ball.
Again Denver could not take full advantage, though, and – after Manning was stripped by Ealy – Gano atoned for his earlier miss by nailing a 39-yard field goal to trim the gap to six in the fourth quarter.
But Newton was denied a thrilling victory when Miller robbed him of the ball again and Ward made the recovery with just over three minutes remaining, with a penalty on the Panthers then setting up Anderson for a title-clinching score before Manning capped things off with a successful two-point conversion pass to Bennie Fowler.