While the Denver Broncos were boasting the NFL’s #1 Defence, I, and I wasn’t alone on this, felt that with Peyton Manning at the helm of the Offence and Cam Newton riding high with the 15-1 Panthers that the game was going to be a highlight reel of beautiful passing, plenty of touchdowns; simply put an epic game to match the occasion of what was not only the 50th Super Bowl but potentially the last game for Peyton Manning, a man who for many had redefined the position of Quarterback. What followed came as a shock to many.
The Panthers certainly looked like the more relaxed team in warm up but once the game started the Broncos’ showed the weight of their experience and, importantly, the harsh lessons learned at the hands of the Seahawks in Super Bowl 48. Super Bowl 50 was a defensive connoisseur’s delight, with interceptions, defensive scores and sacks a plenty as both team’s defences went out to make two explosive offences look remarkably ordinary. As proven by the 90s Nebraska Blackshirt Defence, Offence may win games but it’s Defence that wins Championships. Von Miller had an incredible day forcing the first Touchdown of the night stripping the ball out of Cam Newton’s hands, seeing it tumble into the endzone to be pounced on by hungry Broncos. From the Panthers’ side I have to say that my favourite play has to be the sight of Defensive End Kony Ealy cap a night of great pressure with a brilliant interception.
Much has been made of Cam Newton’s behaviour and some will revel in “Superman” being taken down a peg or two. Having been on the receiving end of bad defeats I can entirely understand not wanting to talk to the press and the need to be inside your own head for a while; though we will have to wait until next season to see if this young quarter back can turn this defeat into a learning experience. Will we see him rise to the heights of other great QBs at the game, like Young and Montana, or if this loss will haunt him in the months to come. I’m hoping for the former as Cam didn’t have that bad a game. Yes, he had a few over thrown passes, but that is a known flaw in Cam’s game and explained initially by the occasion and would have settled down if the Panthers had found any rhythm. The offence were able to move the ball and some amazing passes, and runs showed the brilliance that we’ve seen all year. However, with Jonathan Stewart picking up an injury in the first quarter and an aggressive D stopping any sort of consistent ground game the Panthers could not get their passing game working. With 13 sacks and HUGE pressure from Ware, Miller and what seemed like an endless number of Broncos’ Blitzes, the Panthers claws were clipped for much of the game.
More importantly, being over critical of Newton takes credit away from Miller, Talib and the Broncos dominant defence who showed the similar sort of hunger to Seattle’s D and the Legion of Boom two years ago. This is especially true when you consider that even up to the last 3 minutes of the game you still felt that with some more consistency and a couple of good breaks that Carolina had the sort of explosive, long range threats to win. There are those who will see this year’s score line as an indication of a boring game, and one that lacked that the razzamatazz of a classic Super Bowl. While it may not have been a gun slinging show reel, if someone says the game was boring, they simply weren’t paying attention.