The Denver Defense Takes Over The Super Bowl
The Super Bowl was a matchup of the old guard and the new school of quarterbacks in the NFL. We had Cam Newton and the high-scoring Carolina Panthers in one corner and veteran Peyton Manning and the gritty Denver Broncos in the other corner. Both teams had fought through different things to make it to the big game. The Panthers lost their top wide receiver and many did not expect much of them to start the year. And for the Broncos, they had their share of quarterback issues and offensive issues as a whole. But there these two stood, battling for the Lombardi Trophy. In the end, the Broncos were able to prevail over the favored Panthers 24-10. And with that, Peyton Manning now has his second Lombardi Trophy to add to his illustrious career. The Panthers fought hard, but they just did not have enough to make it happen. And for the Broncos, their defense definitely won this game.
The Broncos defense had a tall task: stopping the MVP, Cam Newton. He has been terrorizing defenses all year with his feet and his arm. But in this game, the terror was what he faced in the Denver defense. The Panthers offensive line was not very successful in protecting Newton and that led to him being sacked seven times in this game. The main guy who was after Newton all game was pass-rusher supreme Von Miller. The free-agent-to-be and MVP of the game was all over the field and on Cam’s heels all night long. He had a total of 2.5 sacks Sunday night. The pressure on Cam was the most he had seen all season long. And the hits that he took just kept coming all night long. That led to him not having much time to hit any of his wide receivers down field and having to throw away more passes than he had all season long. Because of the disrupting of the passing game by the Denver pressure packages, the Panthers looked disjointed in the passing game and Cam never seemed to get comfortable in the pocket. And when he scrambled, Cam had a few runs of note, but he had the clamps put on him for most of the night.
Coming into this game, the Panthers were the team that was known for forcing turnovers. They had the best turnover ratio in the NFL coming into this game. But in the Super Bowl, the Broncos defense turned the tide. The Broncos forced three turnovers in this game. And the Panthers, they were only able to force three turnovers. Usually the turnovers the Panthers force end up in points. But in this game, they were not able to take those turnovers and convert them at all, as the Denver defense was stingy all night long. The Denver defense, however, forced two big turnovers that led to their two touchdowns. The first big turnover they forced came when the Von Miller sacked Cam Newton. Miller was able to strip Newton on the play and then the Broncos recovered the ball in the endzone for a touchdown. And the other huge turnover was when they were up 16-10 and Carolina had the ball, needing a touchdown and extra point to take the lead. Von Miller again striped Cam Newton of the ball while rushing the passer. That turnover led to the game-clinching touchdown that would seal the game. Those 14 points the Broncos defense helped either score or setup were the difference in the game tonight and helped them hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Another huge key in this game was the running game. Coming in, the Carolina Panthers were the team that was used to having a consistent running game. With Cam Newton being able to run and Jonathan Stewart running the ball very solid coming into the game, it was thought the Broncos could be the team to have the issue running the football. But the Panthers were never really able to get their running game going. Newton ended up with 45 yards on six carries, but Jonathan Stewart was missing in action all night long. The veteran running back out of Oregon had one big run of 12 yards in this game. But other than that, he had only eleven carries for 17 yards and a touchdown. With the running game never getting started, the Panthers had to depend on the passing game. And if anyone has watched the Panthers play this year, they are not a team that typically depends on the passing game to get them going. Besides their veteran tight end Greg Olsen, the Panthers had a pedestrian receiving corps. In this game, their dropped passes finally caught up to them. And add to that some errant passes from Cam and the passing game was stuck in neutral as well.
Peyton Manning may be retiring after this game and riding off into the sunset as a two-time title and arguably the greatest of all-time. But the Denver Broncos did not win this championship because of his stellar play. They won this game on the strength of their defense. And from the beginning of the season to now, their defense carried the offense on their collective backs. It’s only fitting that the final game of the season was a defensive masterpiece.