The Super Bowl was a matchup of the Carolina Panthers, who had the highest scoring offense, and the Denver Broncos, who had a defense giving up the fewest yards per game. Well, on Sunday the defense won the battle as the Panthers lost 24-10 in Super Bowl 50 to the Broncos.
The Panthers have typically been a team that has been able to jump out to early leads but it was the Broncos that jumped out to 10-0 lead thanks to a field goal on the opening drive and a fumble recovery in the end zone when Von Miller stripped Cam Newton on a sack. The ball was recovered by Malik Jackson in the end zone.
This was the first time all postseason that the Panthers' trailed in a game and the Panthers' never held the lead at any point in the Super Bowl.
The Panthers' offense failed to get in rhythm most of the game due to the Broncos' pass rush that had seven sacks, six on Newton. The Broncos were able to get steady pressure off the edge with Miller and DeMarcus Ware, who combined had 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, both of which were by Miller.
The Panthers' offensive line could not find an answer all game for this pass rush and Newton never looked like the player who won the MVP award less than 24 hours ago. He finished the game completing 17 of 40 passes for 259 yards, no touchdowns and three turnovers (one interception, two fumbles).
While the Panthers' offense did struggle for most of the game, it was the defense that was able to keep them in this contest. They only allowed one offensive touchdown, which happened in the final minutes of the game after the Broncos recovered a fumble and started the drive inside the 20-yard line. That drive was actually the second time the defense was put in that position as it happened in the first half when the Broncos were able to return a punt 64 yards to set up a field goal.
It was a stellar performance by a defense that had two players on the field playing with broken bones, linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive end Jared Allen. They held Peyton Manning to only 141 yards and for the first time in four Super Bowls did not throw a touchdown pass.
The defense did an excellent job getting pressure on the Broncos' quarterback, finishing the game with five sacks and were able to force him into two turnovers of his own (one interception and one fumble).
In the end, the defense wasn't able to overcome the mistakes the Panthers made throughout the game. While Newton wasn't as sharp as he has shown to be this postseason, the wide receivers struggled to hold onto passes as Philly Brown, Jerricho Cotchery and Ted Ginn Jr. dropped catchable balls. The Panthers' failed to win the turnover battle, something they consistently did this season, and saw kicker Graham Gano miss a field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter, who missed only six all year. These mistakes proved to be just too costly for the NFC Champions to overcome.