The broncos looked good from the very beginning both offensively and defensively. After winning the toss, the Panthers decided to kick which proved to be costly. The Denver offense began the day looking crisp and sharp. Manning threw two beautiful passes to set the offense in motion, which were then followed by solid runs from Running Back C.J. Anderson. The Bronco offense continued to march down the field, but were eventually stopped and forced to only a field goal. In the Panthers first drive, the Bronco defense held them to a total of 9 yards therefore forcing a 3-and-out punt. The rhetoric remained the same for the Broncos who also fell victim to stingy defense, and also punted. The Panthers second drive did not go the way they had hoped. Pinned back within their own 20 yard line, Cam Newton dropped back for a pass and was strip sacked by DE/OLB Von Miller. Defensive Tackle Malik Jackson also caused pressure on the play and was therefore in great position to scoop up the football and take it to the end zone giving the Broncos a 10-0 lead.
In a drive that started late in the first quarter, the Carolina Panthers began to find some rhythm on the offensive side of the ball. Crisp passes from Quarterback Cam Newton as well as solid runs from Running Back Jonathan Stewart characterized this scoring drive as Stewart dove over the pile for a one yard rushing touchdown. Play on both sides of the ball became very sloppy during this quarter of the game. Penalty flags flew across the field on seemingly every play. Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalties were the most common call as players from both sides tried to land cheap shots on each other. The rest of the half featured two punts by each team, a Denver Field Goal, a Carolina Fumble, and a Carolina Interception moments after the Panthers fumbled the ball. Carolina failed to convert at crucial times during the first half. Unfortunately for Carolina fans, the trend continued in the second half.
Perhaps the worst moment of Super Bowl 50 happened in the third quarter when Carolina Kicker Graham Gano hit the goal post on an attempted field goal. After this moment, the Panthers began to deflate. Carolina’s other two possessions during the third quarter led to an interception and a punt. Denver managed to capitalize of Carolina’s mistakes by adding a field goal to the scoreboard therefore stretching the lead to 9 points. Denver could have however, capitalized even more off of Carolina’s sloppy and uncharacteristic play. Denver punted the ball once and turned the ball over as well in the quarter. In all my years as a Football fan, I have never seen as many missed opportunities and personal fouls as I saw in this football game. You also have to credit the Bronco pass-rush. All throughout the playoffs this unit pressured the Quarterback like nobody’s business. Suffice to say, they continued the trend in Super Bowl 50.
The fourth quarter remained a one way affair. The Denver Defense maintained continuous pressure on the Cam Newton while the Carolina offense struggled to find and establish its identity. The Panthers started the quarter off well with a field goal following the Denver fumble. However, they couldn’t find a rhythm after this and punted in two of their other three possessions while fumbling in the other. The Broncos however, slowed the game down to a crawl. They ran the ball with frequency and managed to score a touchdown late in the fourth. While it wasn’t the prettiest of quarters for the Broncos. they managed to stop every Carolina attack while scoring just enough points to make the game out of reach for the Panthers.
It comes down to this: both offenses were mediocre. The defenses won the game for the Broncos. Not a single passing touchdown was thrown in this super bowl. That speaks volumes as to what kind of a game this truly was. I thoroughly expected a more exciting game but was nonetheless entertained by the stellar play by Super Bowl MVP Von Miller.