Peyton Manning can now go out on top, despite struggling in the big game. Manning threw for only 141 yards with one interception and a fumble on the day. None of that mattered though, because the defense did its part and helped the five-time MVP win his second Super Bowl.
Von Miller led the Broncos’ defense all day, just as he did in the AFC Championship game. Miller had 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles on the game, the first of which was recovered for a touchdown for a 10-0 lead. The second fumble essentially sealed the game late in the fourth quarter when Miller stripped Newton from behind and the Broncos recovered inside the Panthers’ 10-yard line. Miller was named Super Bowl MVP for his dominating performance.
Denver’s defense overall had an all-time great performance with seven sacks, tying the 1985 Chicago Bears for the most ever in a Super Bowl. They also forced regular-season MVP Newton to have three turnovers and his lowest QBR all season. The Broncos’ defense appeared to have some extra motivation as well.
“For two weeks straight, that’s all we heard was ‘Cam this, Cam that, dab this, dab that.’ They were dabbing in their team photos,” Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby said. “It was very disrespectful. We wanted to come out and prove that we’re the best.”
On the other side of the ball Cam Newton’s inability to dominate the way he did all season was the story. While the Broncos’ defense had a lot to do with that, Newton couldn’t escape the pass rush with his legs the way many thought he would. Newton managed to run for 45 inconsequential yards, while being sacked for a total of 67 yards. He was off target on 11 throws, tied for the most he had all season and when he was on-target, drops haunted him.
Ted Ginn, who’s had his fair share of drops in his career, dropped a pass that ended up right in the arms of Chris Harris for Newton’s only interception. Sure-handed Jericho Cotchery, who had 44 catches and zero drops all season, dropped three in the game, including one at the five-yard line which would have set the Panthers up with a chance to take the lead.
Missed opportunities will haunt Carolina, but for Denver, the defense did exactly what they needed to do. In their three playoff games, the defense only gave up 44 combined points to the Steelers, Patriots, and Panthers, three of the best offenses in football. Manning and the Broncos offense meanwhile, became the first offense to ever win a Super Bowl without gaining 200 yards and only the third team to win with only one offensive touchdown. For Manning though, the only thing that matters is getting his second ring, and he made quite a bit of history in the process.
Manning became the first quarterback to reach 200 career wins, breaking his tie with Brett Favre. He became the first quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl with two different teams. Also, his 14 postseason wins are tied for third all-time with John Elway and Terry Bradshaw. With all these accolades, general opinion seems to be that he should retire. And if it was the sheriff’s last ride, it was rough, but it was worth it.