I can’t remember ever being this wrong about a football game. Now I didn’t expect it to be closea��and if not for Peyton Manning letting Carolina hang around, it would have been far ugliera��but make no mistake about it: the Denver Broncos dominated this game.
I was right about one aspect of the aftermath, and predictably so: it was still (mostly) about Manning and Cam Newton. Manning, who notched his a�?200th QB wina�?a��a laughable, utterly meaningless statistica��and Newton, who was very short with the media afterwards, both with answers and his time.
Manning, who’s second ring has led to takes such as a�?With Super Bowl 50 win, Peyton Manning solidifies place as NFL’s best QB ever.a�? Newton, who’s early exit from the postgame press conference has led to lectures on maturity and class, while all season they were lectures on how he should behave on the field. Imagine if we could follow these people around at their job and tell them what to do every waking second.
Can we all just stop? Here’s how those two quarterbacks did last night:
Manning a�� 13/23 (57 percent), 1 interception, 1 fumble lost, 56.6 passer rating.
Newton a�� 18/41 (44 percent), 1 interception, 2 fumbles lost, 55.4 passer rating.
There were six turnovers in this gamea��four by Carolina, two by Denver. Outside of their opening drive, Manning looked like the quarterback we saw all season: panicky, indecisive, and inaccurate. He hasn’t committed to retiring yet, but I can’t imagine he’ll need much time to think on it. If there were ever a perfect moment, this is it.
Manning doesn’t sniff this Super Bowl without Denver’s defense, one that racked up 35 total pressures last night, and over 100 in the postseason:
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 8, 2016
Specifically there was MVP Von Miller, who racked up 30 by himself over his last four games. His evening consisted of 5 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumblesa��one that was recovered in the endzone, another that was recovered inside Carolina’s five-yard line.
Newton, who’s MVP season didn’t hide the fact that his supporting cast was less than stellar all yeara��especially at wide receivera��wasn’t enough on the NFL’s biggest stage. When he had time to throw, he missed several. When he did make a big throw, he didn’t get much help.
There was a drop down the sideline that would have set up a potential touchdown. Instead, a missed field goal. There was the Jerricho Cotchery catch that apparently wasn’t (it was) which would have gone for a big gain. Instead, two plays later Newton was strip-sacked and Denver recovered in the endzone for a touchdown. Or, how about the Mike Tolbert fumble just when the Panthers were starting to get a drive going?
There was the second-half pass to Ted Ginn that he didn’t catch (shocker) which fell right into the hands of Denver’s defense. Broadcaster Phil Simms even made the remark that Newton a�?threw the ball too harda�? to Ginn. I’m no expert, but I’m fairly certain it doesn’t work that way. But all in all, Newton didn’t have his best night. Far from it. He got beat up, beat down, and didn’t protect the ball well enough.
But if there’s one thing a teammate, coach, fan, or reporter should question him about, it’s not his postgame press conference. It’s not his behavior on the field; it’s not the gold shoes with ‘MVP’ on the tongues in warm-ups. None of that crap matters. It’s not like Newton was Aqip Talib out there, who tackled a player by his face mask a�?on purpose… just to show him.a�? No, here’s what Newton should be questioned for:
— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) February 8, 2016
There’s Newton fumbling late in the gamea��this turnover essentially sealed ita��and instead of diving in for it, he stopped. I don’t care how far away it was (each angle shows it’s fairly close) but you expect the majority of playersa��especially the league MVPa��to go for that. It’s the most important game of the year and you’re going to stop short in that moment? It’s a bad look.
But back to Denver’s defense, or more specifically, Ron Rivera’s gameplan. According to linebacker Brandon Marshall, the Panthers didn’t do anything differently:
Broncos LB Brandon Marshall said he expected Carolina to add wrinkles. They didn't. "We were like, 'Yo, they aren't switching anything up.'"
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 8, 2016
Nothing like not making adjustments in the biggest game of your sport. But hey, there’s always next year. Maybe.
Here’s what the Super Bowl consisted of: poor quarterback play, the inability to hang on to the football, lots of puntsa��Denver was great in this area, Carolina was nota��and two quarterbacks at entirely different points of their careers. Manning, on the heels of one of his worst performances, claims his second ring in what should be his final game. Newton on the other hand, will have plenty of time to shake off the bitter defeat and work his way back.
Then there’s Von Miller and the entire Denver defensea��one that deserves more credit than we’re all giving them, which is saying something. Congratulations to the Denver Broncos, your Super Bowl 50 champions.