Photo Credit: thecomeback.com
Super Bowl 50:
It was a sloppy game. Both teams combined for 6 total turnovers, 12 sacks, 15 Punts, 16 “three and outs,” 5 FG attempts, and barely 300 yards passing combined. But that style of play was exactly what Denver wanted.
To start, the pageantry surrounding Super Bowl 50 was awesome. In fact, it was kind of the highlight of the game. Bringing back every surviving Super Bowl MVP to be recognized was an awesome idea. It gave me chills to see them listing off Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, John Elway, Kurt Warner, etc. I’m such a football nut that I started guessing each one (correctly) from 1980 on. I did find it amusing that Tom Brady got extravagantly booed, granted that was mostly the Denver crowd. But nonetheless that was very cool. I don’t normally talk about the “extracurricular activities,” but Lady Gaga shocked the world. One of the better Anthems I remember seeing, hands down. The Blue Angel flyover was also cool, they were low, close, and fast. Not like the helicopters they’ve been doing recently. And then, the game started.
Denver’s first drive gave every Bronco fan hope. They went 64 yards in 10 plays, and surprisingly most of it was passing the ball. They ended up having to settle for a field goal, but they proved they could move the ball on Carolina, and sometimes getting those first points breaks the ice. But surprisingly this drive accounted for 1/3 of the Broncos total yards, and would be the first and last time their offense looked like a cohesive unit.
After a couple punts, Carolina had the ball deep in their territory. On 1st Down, Newton hit Cotchery for about 20 yards. He bobbled the ball, rolled, and came up with it. They called it incomplete on the field, but Rivera challenged it. My personal opinion was that it was a catch. Sure he bobbled it, but the only time it hit the ground he had full control of the ball. I think the issue came up when he rolled over and the ball moved to his other hand. In my opinion, you still call it a catch, but the challenge wasn’t successful, keeping Newton backed up into his own endzone. Two plays later, the Broncos got to him for the first time in the game, causing a fumble which was recovered in the endzone. Ted Ginn was wide open on the play as well at about the 50, easily could have been a TD for Carolina. Instead it was a quick 10-0 lead, the defense already showing their prowess scoring 7 points in 6 plays.
Carolina would bounce back however, having a nice 73 yard drive to start the 2nd quarter. The last play was a beautiful leaping jump by Jonathan Stewart. He got some serious air, at one point his body was horizontal and still above the helmets of Bronco defenders! After a couple more 3 and outs, Carolina punted to Norwood, who never called a fair catch but caught the ball in the middle of 4 Panther defenders. He pinballed out of it and ran 61 yards (the longest punt return in Super Bowl history) to set up an easy FG for Denver. The Broncos would take a 13-7 lead into halftime.
Speaking of halftime, we were all dreading the fact that Coldplay was picked for the entertainment, and they somehow were worse than that. Coldplay is the music your typical 40 year old hipster listens to while doing yoga. There’s zero energy to it. Their lead singer was bouncing up and down even faster than the beat of their songs. I thought Beyonce was going to save the day, but she came out singing an anti-cop song. Bruno Mars was the only highlight, and he should have been the headliner for the entire thing. And then their tribute to the prior Super Bowl acts was too short but also dumb because only the home audience could see it. The NFL really fumbled what should have been an epic performance. Why not bring back 15 acts to sing 60 second versions of their songs.
Carolina’s woes continued in the 2nd half. They opened with a 10 play drive but missed the FG. After giving up another 3 points to Denver, Newton threw an interception down at the 28 yard line. Ward proceeded to fumble the ball in what was the scariest play of the day, but the Broncos recovered, keeping the lead at 16-7. The rest of the 3rd and 4th quarter were pretty blah, with only 2 Field Goals until the garbage time TD. The next possessions after the pick were Punt, Punt, Fumble, Field Goal, Punt, Punt, Punt, Fumble, game sealing TD with 3:08 left in the game.
You could argue that Carolina outplayed them. They had more yards (315 to 194), 1st downs (21 to 11), and had the ball for 32:47. But the difference was defense and turnovers. Newton was sacked 6 times, twice for fumbles. Both fumbles led to both Broncos TD’s of the day. Carolina was also plagued by overthrown passes and dropped passes. Newton also threw an interception, and running back Mike Tolbert fumbled twice (and lost one). The turf also seemed to plague both teams in the 1st quarter until most players changed their cleats. The entire game (if you were rooting for the Broncos), it felt like you were holding your breath, watching the clock more than the scoreboard. Just hoping the defense would hold but not believing it could. Instead it was sack after sack, turnover after turnover, and it won Denver the game. Manning managed the game, instead of willing his team to victory like he’s done his entire career. He went 1-14 on 3rd down, a stat that should lose you the game 99% of the time.
In a goofy play in the 2nd quarter, Manning was sacked, but got up and underhanded the ball to the RB who let it dribble by. The refs called it an incomplete pass, but Ron Rivera decided to use his 2nd challenge of the game with 11 minutes left in the 4th quarter. All to uphold a -7 yard play. I didn’t understand the challenge, it wasn’t a big enough play and he was out of challenges for the remaining 41 minutes of the game.
What could have been:
I think the Panthers are lucky they didn’t come into the game at 18-0. The undefeated season would have been the talk of the town, and people still talk about the Patriots loss to the Giants 9 years ago.
Stat of the Week #1:
#1 Defenses are now 10-2 in Super Bowls since the merger. Pretty impressive, means 25% of the time a #1 Defense makes the Super Bowl
Stat of the Week #2:
The Broncos Defense dominated Roethlisberger (16 points), Brady (18 points), and Newton (10 points). These teams were 1, 3, and 4 in scoring, yet combined for 1 pass TD. Keep in mind that in non-Manning Super Bowls, Roethlisberger and Brady have made 8 of the last 9 Super Bowls; this is who the defense locked down.
Stat of the Week #3:
Newton had 10 overthrows, which is tied for the most in a Super Bowl
Stat of the Week #4:
Peyton Manning is the oldest QB to start (and win) a Super Bowl
Stat of the Week #5
Manning entered the game tied with Brett Favre for 199 career wins. The Super Bowl broke that tie to give Manning 200
Stat of the Week #6:
The Broncos had more turnovers than 3rd down conversions, had only 130 yards after their opening drive (which was only a FG), and only 2 drives that lasted longer than 5 plays. They won the game by 14 points…
Stat of the Week #7:
Broncos had the fewest total yards of a winning Super Bowl team (194)
Stat of the Week #8:
Manning’s QBR was 9.9
Stat of the Week #9:
Peyton Manning was the first QB to win a Super Bowl for 2 different teams
Stat of the Week #10:
No NFL MVP has won the Super Bowl since Kurt Warner in 1999. This includes 2 for Tom Brady and 5 for Peyton during this timeframe.
Stat of the Week #11:
In the 4 seasons prior to Manning, the Broncos went 28-36. With Manning they went 50-14 with 2 Super Bowl victories.
Stat of the Week #12:
The Panthers didn’t trail for the first 124 minutes of the postseason. They trailed for 56 minutes of the Super Bowl.
Stat of the Week #13:
For a team that dominiated the run game, Cam Newton led the team in rushing with 45 yards.
Quote of the Week:
“I’m gonna drink a lot of beer tonight, Von Miller’s buying” Peyton Manning
As a non-bronco fan, Sunday was the ideal outcome of the game. The world was how it was supposed to be, with one of the best QB’s of all time going out with a win. The only disappointment, was he should have announced with the Lombardi trophy in his hand, that he was retiring. It would have made the moment all that special. Manning is the all time leader in TD’s thrown, games won, yards thrown, and has been to 4 Super Bowls. Congrats Peyton, I’m glad you got one more chance to be a Champion.
Photo Credit: Fox
For the Record:
My prediction was Broncos 24, Panthers 20.
For the Record #2:
Manning’s final pass of the game (and likely his career) was fitting. A toss into the endzone for a successful 2pt conversion