- The first quarter did not go well for the Carolina Panthers as they struggled to get any kind of rhythm and fell behind 10-0. This is not typical for a Panthers team that has been able to get off to fast starts this year, building double digit leads in five of the last six games. This also marked the first time the Panthers trailed at any point this postseason.
- The turning point of the first quarter was when Von Miller was able to beat Mike Remmers and forced a strip sack on Cam Newton. The fumble was recovered by Malik Jackson in the endzone for the Broncos first, and only touchdown, of the first half. Meanwhile, Newton has not looked as crisp as he has been this year with a few overthrows on wide open wide receivers. He did settle down in the second quarter after he broke off a few long runs. He then connected on passes to Greg Olsen and Philly Brown to set up a one-yard touchdown leap by Jonathan Stewart.
- The Panthers' though have some injury concerns for Stewart who had to leave twice in the first half due to a foot injury. He wasn't able to come back on the field before halftime and it is worth watching if he is available in the second half. This could be a big blow to an offense that hasn't been able to muster much through the air.
- Cam Newton, who is now the reigning MVP, has not looked exceptionally sharp in the first half. He finished the half with only 95 passing yards and eight completions. Now he has overthrown some wide receivers however his wide receivers have not done him many favors with Philly Brown having a few drops. The offensive line has also struggled to give him time in the pocket as he has been sacked three times.
- Meanwhile, the Panthers' defense has played exceptionally well by holding the offense to only two field goals. This includes a drive that started inside the 20-yard line after the Broncos returned a punt 64 yards. The MVP of the first half though would have to be defensive end Kony Ealy, who has a sack and an interception in the second quarter.
- The Panthers have also done a good job limiting Peyton Manning who only has 76 passing yards, no touchdowns and the one interception. The Panthers' secondary has done a good job playing tight coverage and has broken up two passes by Josh Norman and Robert McClain.
- The Panthers' linebackers have also had a strong half with the starting three (Luke Kuechly, Shaq Thompson, and Thomas Davis) combining for 14 tackles and Kuechly and Thompson each registering a tackle for a loss. Meanwhile, Davis who is playing with a broken arm, doesn't appear to be slowed by his injury. He has four tackles and looks to be the same player fans have come to expect.
- As bad as the Panthers have looked, and as many mistakes they have made, they are still very much in this game. They are only down six points and will start with the ball in the second half. Even though they were not able to come away with any points at the end of the half, they still moved the ball well until DeMarcus Ware's sack. This is something they can build off of coming out in the second half.
- The other focus will need to be protecting the ball as the Panthers had three fumbles, losing two of them. These obviously have been drive killers and are mistakes they are not accustomed to making this year. The offense will need to do a better job of protecting the ball in the second half if they want to come back.