Denver’s Defence Defeats Disappointing Carolina Offence

Aroop Patel 

Denver Wins Super Bowl 50 

The first place Carolina Panthers fell short in their quest to win their first ever Super Bowl. It had been a fairy tale season for the Panthers, as they were on their way to completing a franchise record-setting season. They finished first in the league going 15-1 in the regular season, becoming only the sixth team in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

They were completely dominant throughout the entire season, boasting a stout defensive unit and a high-powered offence. Head coach Ron Rivera was named Coach of the year for his part in turning this team into a formidable force. Quarterback Cam Newton was crowned the NFL’s Most Valuable Player as he led his team on and off the field. "I've received a lot of awards, but to be able to get this organization here, I'm really proud,” Cam stated after winning the award.

Unfortunately, his stellar play did not carry on into the championship game, as they lost 24-10.

The Denver Broncos, on the other hand, had an up-and-down season as they battled physical trauma. Five-time MVP Peyton Manning had a tough run; he threw only nine touchdowns, a career low, and had been intercepted seventeen times during an injury-plagued season. Some are pushing the notion that this may be his last year in the NFL.

He was only able to play in ten of the sixteen games this season, and almost lost the starting job upon his return to backup quarterback, Brock Osweiler. This was Osweiler’s first time starting since he joined the league in 2012. 

Head Bronco coach Gary Kubiak gave praise to both quarterbacks, but ultimately chose Peyton before the playoffs started, stating, “I just do what I think is best for our football team... I feel really good about this, about how far Peyton has come.”                   

Their exceptional defensive play throughout the season — led by outside linebacker, Von Miller — propelled them to an impressive 12-4 record. The team was ranked first in total defence this past season. Miller single-handedly halted Carolina’s offence and rendered Cam Newton useless throughout the Super Bowl, taking home Super Bowl MVP honours.              

This year’s Super Bowl 50 was rough from the beginning for the Panthers. The Broncos scored a 34-yard field goal on the first drive of the game to set the pace. At the midpoint of the quarter, Von Miller recorded his first strip-sack of the game, which was picked up by defensive end, Malik Jackson and returned for a touchdown. The Panthers were unable to get anything started offensively and were forced to punt on their first two possessions of the game. Their high-powered offence had been stifled right from the get-go. This put the Broncos up 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.

In the beginning of the second quarter, Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offence were able to push the ball deep into Bronco territory. They capped off their strong drive with a Jonathan Stewart rushing touchdown and had the game back within three points. But only a few minutes later, the Broncos had upped their lead to six on another Brandon McManus field goal from 33-yards out. McManus had been relied on for much of the regular season as the team’s highest scorer. 

On the Panther’s next possession, running back Mike Tolbert fumbled the ball as the Broncos recorded their second forced turnover of the game. However, on the ensuing drive, Manning coughed up an interception to Panthers’ Kony Ealy, who also recorded three sacks on the night.

Although the Panthers could not get much going offensively on the night, their defence, led by cornerback Josh Norman and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, were playing extremely well and kept the Panthers in the game.

After a halftime show featuring Coldplay, Bruno Mars, and Beyoncé, the teams came back out on the field, where Carolina started with the ball to begin the half.

The Panthers managed to put together a decent drive, but unfortunately came away with zero points after a missed field goal attempt from 44-yards out by Graham Gano. On the Broncos’ next possession, McManus showed them how it’s done and knocked in another 30-yard field goal, putting them up by nine.

Regardless of how Carolina was performing offensively, they still had a chance to get right back in it due to their defence, but sadly, Denver was relentless on defence as well.

In the fourth quarter, Kony Ealy was able to recover a Peyton Manning fumble, which led to a Carolina field goal and trimmed their deficit back down to six points.

Regrettably, after this turn of events, the Panthers were unable to put any more points up on the board. Von Miller caused another strip-sack in the final minutes to end yet another Panther drive. Denver’s running back, C.J. Anderson, scored a touchdown in the final four minutes and Manning used a 2-point conversion to put the game out of reach and cement themselves as Super Bowl Champions. 

During the awards presentation, Von Miller was crowned MVP and Peyton Manning was asked if this would be his final year. He talked about some advice his former coach Tony Dungy told him, “Don’t make an emotional decision, this has been a very emotional week and an emotional night.” He avoided the question but did tell the world, “I’m going to drink a lot of beer tonight, Budweiser, and Von Miller is buying.”

Whatever his choice may be, he is a lock to be in the Hall of Fame and has earned a name for himself as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.