When the Carolina Panthers battle the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has a chance to become the second player after Marcus Allen to win the Heisman Trophy, college football national title, MVP, and the Super Bowl. All that stands in his way is Denver’s dominant top-ranked defense. Though Carolina is 4-0 this season against top-five defenses, top-ranked defenses are 9-2 in Super Bowls.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will try to ride off into the sunset with a Super Bowl victory like John Elway did, but the windy conditions in San Francisco may cause some problems for The Sheriff. For all the deserved hype that Carolina’s top-ranked offense has received, their defense has been undervalued. And Manning must avoid throwing interceptions that have haunted him throughout the season. If Manning turns the ball over, this will be a repeat of the Broncos-Seahawks Super Bowl matchup in which Seattle thrashed Denver.
The Broncos defense will have to contain Newton, but the key may be how well Denver’s defense can stifle Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, Newton’s top target. Something tells me, though, that the game may well rest on whether Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn, a “feast or famine” player, catches—or drops—a wide-open deep ball from Newton.
Another interesting note: Denver is 5-0 in games Clete Blakeman (today’s referee) referees. As ESPN pointed out, the Broncos had been 6-0 in games in which Ed Hochuli was the referee and made it 7-0 after their AFC title game victory over the Patriots.
I’m not betting against Newton, though. He always is at his best when the klieg lights are the brightest.
Stay with Breitbart News for live updates/commentary throughout the game.
Kevin Scholla: Gotta love Peyton Manning pumping up Budweiser in Coors country!
Von Miller wins the MVP. Much deserved.
Tony Lee: Great moment: Elway says “this one’s for Pat.” Bowlen famously said “this one’s for John” after Denver’s Super Bowl XXXII win. Bowlen, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, was not well enough to make the trip to San Francisco for the Super Bowl.
Kevin Scholla: Enjoy the post game, but get the clicker ready so you can flip the channel before Stephen Colbert infects your TV.
Kevin Scholla: Von Miller should be MVP. I just love when defensive players get that prestigious honor.
Tony Lee: I think the worst thing that happened to the Panthers was thrashing Arizona in the title game. Give Denver’s defense all the credit that it deserves. But Carolina’s game plan on offense was predictable and terrible. Carolina’s defense gave the Panthers every chance to win the game, but Carolina’s offense seemed liked it had been preparing for Tampa Bay and not Denver. I think the Panthers underestimated how good Denver’s corners are and Denver’s speed on defense. Newton wilted on the grand stage and his not diving to retrieve his fumble will haunt him–and hurt his image–for a long time.
Final: Denver 24, Carolina 10
Manning becomes the first NFL quarterback to get 200 wins (playoffs and regular season). The Sheriff doesn’t answer when asked if this was his final game. He says he wants to kiss his wife and kids and hug his family. Manning says he’s going to drink “a lot of Budweiser tonight” and “say a little prayer and thank the Man upstairs” for the great opportunity.
Kevin Scholla: Classy move by Josh Norman giving Peyton Manning a little Mile High Salute. Two super players.
Kevin Scholla: Jim Nantz has a new baby?! Who is he, Billy Joel???
Dan Flynn: Out of left field: I wonder if Peyton Manning buys a piece of the Tennessee Titans (he lives in Chattanooga) and/or joins their front office.
Kevin Scholla: Does Gary Kubiak go down as the Super Bowl winning head coach that had the least impact on his team’s fate? This is Wade Phillips all the way.
Tony Lee: Denver’s defense benefited from two key fumbles in the playoffs. They may not have reached the Super Bowl had Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Toussaint not fumbled as the Steelers were looking like they were about to put the game away in the divisional game. I think Tolbert’s fumble tonight really changed the momentum of the game.
John Pudner: Peyton Manning missed having the fewest yards passing in Super Bowl History by 22 yards (141 to 119 for Roger Staubach vs. Miami). And he won by being smart and realizing he needed to manage this one and let his defense win.
Cole Muzio: Von Miller HAS to get the MVP nod, right?
Dan Flynn: Cam Newton looks like the goat for not jumping on his fumble. Ron Rivera talked about not holding Newton back as a runner in the last game of the season. It turns out that Cam Newton held Cam Newton back. He’s not going to live down that reluctance to recover his own fumble anytime soon.
Denver 24, Carolina 10.
C.J. Anderson plunges into the end zone as Denver turns the turnover into points. Broncos convert the two-point conversion. Manning two minutes riding off into the sunset with a Super Bowl win like Elway. Fantastic story for the NFL.
Dan Flynn: Thirteen punts, six turnovers, and one offensive touchdown–a year after arguably the greatest Super Bowl in history the Broncos and Panthers play in a largely forgettable contest. Lots of impressive defensive performances on both sides of the ball. But too much sloppy play on offense. The Cam Newton fumble, and hesitation to recover it, puts the exclamation point on the kind of game this has been.
Tony Lee: Miller likely ices the game by knocking the ball out of Newton’s hand. T.J. Ward recovers the fumble. Is Newton hurt? He doesn’t even dive after the fumble
Cole Muzio: Our ranking of the top 25 recruits featured 11 defensive linemen. Though QBs will always get the hype, today’s Super Bowl is a perfect illustration of what you can do if your DL dominates the line of scrimmage
Tony Lee: Denver is betting that Carolina can’t score a touchdown on its defense by running on the third-and-nine play. Panthers get the ball back with 4:51 left.
Kevin Scholla: So fun to watch Josh Norman. One of the very few DBs who can still excel and dominate in a league that stacks all the rules against the secondary.
Dan Leberfeld: Von Miller is a free agent after this season. Love to be his agent. What a tremendous talent.
John Pudner: “Pressure” by David Bowie at the commercial cutaway perfect. Carolina defense under pressure – cannot give up a score of any kind. Manning under pressure – he cannot turn it over again. This is why they are paid the big bucks.
Kevin Scholla: Greg Olsen must get more involved if you’re Carolina. Still plenty of time for a Newton to Olsen scoring play and a 17-16 squeaker.
Denver 16, Carolina 10
Gano hits a 39-yard field goal as the Panthers pull to within one score. It’s amazing that the Panthers still have a chance to win with all of their mistakes/turnovers.
Dan Flynn: Kony Ealy playing the game of his life. Strip sack of Manning his third sack of game. Should Carolina come back, look for Ealy for MVP.
Dan Leberfeld: Peyton Manning used to put teams on his back and lead them to great heights. With Denver this year, he’s along for the ride. He’s a game-manager. And that is okay, along as you win.
Kevin Scholla: Back in the old days when men ran the NFL, a player slapping the ball out of someone’s hand in a meaningful game would be told ‘Cut it out’. He wouldn’t be penalized. Get a perspective, for Johnny Sample’s sake!
Tony Lee: Kony Ealy having the game of his life, he causes a critical Manning fumble to give Carolina some life. Panthers with the ball at midfield and face a must-score drive.
Kevin Scholla: The only time two coaches were carried off the field after a Super Bowl was 30 years ago when the Bears carried both Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan off following Super Bowl XX. If things don’t change here, Denver may want to carry off Kubiak and Phillips. Kubiak is optional. Bum’s son is the story.
Cole Muzio: Two Missouri defensive ends were drafted in 2014. Media and left-wing darling Michael Sam will likely never play a snap in the NFL. The man who generated much less conversation, Kony Ealy, has been one of the best players on the field today for the Panthers. Two sacks for the second year defender.
Kevin Scholla: Phil Simms, the man who refuses to say ‘Redskins’, says Newton threw the ball ‘too hard’ to Ginn. Come on! That catch has to be made.
John Pudner: Ted Ginn’s speed (one of very few to crack a 4.3 in the 40) resulted in three big plays in third quarter. But the wrap on his hands came back again as Cam’s throw went right through them for an interception to stop another drive. Pressure growing on Carolina.
Tony Lee: After completing a deep pass to Philly Brown, Denver gets the ball back as Carolina was driving deep in Denver territory. Denver intercepts Newton when Ginn can’t hold onto Newton’s pass (if it hits your hands, you have to catch it). T.J. Ward, who picked off the pass, fumbles while returning the pick, but Denver’s Trevathan recovers. Cole’s right. The ball is not bouncing Carolina’s way tonight. Huge defensive series, to say the least, for Carolina here.
Denver 16, Carolina 7:
Broncos again fail to score in the red zone. They settle for a field goal but are now up two scores. Denver’s offense still has not scored a touchdown.
Perhaps because the Patriots aren’t playing, Donald Trump thinks the Super Bowl has been “very boring.” He thinks politics is much more exciting:
So far the Super Bowl is very boring – not nearly as exciting as politics – MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2016
Cole Muzio: Football is a game of bounces. So far, the ball is bouncing the Broncos way. The clang off the goal post is emblematic of the game thus far.
Tony Lee: Carolina has a chance to cut the lead to three on its opening drive of the second half, but Gano hits the upright on his 44-yard field goal attempt. Another wasted opportunity by Carolina to put points on the board.
Kevin Scholla: Lady Gaga was tremendous! Thank you for honoring our country in a powerful, respectful way. I will think of you often to try to erase that halftime train wreck from my mind.
Dan Flynn: Jason Schwartzman wins the ads Oscar for this year’s Super Bowl. Classic line asking old woman in Amazon commercial: “So, how much money do you have?”
Kevin Scholla: Showing clips of the previous Super Bowl acts (Stones, Whitney, U2, etc.) really drove home just how bad this halftime show was in comparison.
Dan Flynn: Excellent athleticism displayed by the former Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow at the halftime show. Don’t know why the NFL does the fake fans thing every year–perhaps a vestige from Up with People crowding the field with so many smiling folks. The show, with the pyro and lights, suffered as a result of the day sky. Great tribute-ending by Coldplay juxtaposing the visual of late performers of Super Bowls past with the music of “Fix You.”
Tony Lee: If the Panthers win this game, give some credit to defensive end Mario Addison, who ran down Norwood on the punt return and saved a touchdown. In the NFC title game, Carolina’s Ted Ginn sprinted from the end zone to run down Arizona’s Patrick Peterson as Peterson was going into the end zone after picking off Newton. Ginn chased Peterson down as Peterson was about to cut Carolina’s lead to 24-14. Carolina intercepted Arizona on the next play and went into halftime with a 24-7 lead. Addison’s hustle saved Carolina four huge points in this defensive battle.
Kevin Scholla: If these teams can stop the turnovers and penalties, the score could very well be 13-7 heading into the 4th quarter. Now let me go and listen to hear how Beyonce wants me to vote.
Tony Lee: Cam Newton reminded me of Ben Roethlisberger when he was playing at Auburn. He has to shred Denver’s defensive like Big Ben did at Pittsburgh, but it will be difficult because he doesn’t have the talented receivers Roehtlisberger has around him. Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula, the former Alabama quarterback, needs to take a page out of Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin’s playbook and find creative ways to utilize tight end Olsen in the second half like Kiffin did with O.J. Howard against Clemson in the college football title game. Tight ends have been successful finding soft spots in Denver’s defense. Carolina did not go deep once in the first half. Why have Ginn/Brown on the field if you aren’t going to at least try a home-run pass to either when Denver is stopping the run and the underneath throwing game?
Halftime: Denver 13, Carolina 7.
Kevin Scholla: Cam showed poise in the pocket there that Peyton’s brother would appreciate.
John Pudner: Peyton’s mind is still the best, but his weakened arm was a factor for the first time on the interception. However, Cam’s arm strength not a factor due to pressure, no one getting open, and his two early overthrows when he did have a change. Two great defenses have the edge so far.
Dan Flynn: Manning interception simply a bad decision. He got away with throwing a few ducks early on. But this pick, with a great return by University of Missouri product Kony Ealy, stemmed less from his age than his decision making.
Tony Lee: Cam doesn’t seem like Cam so far. Carolina needs to give him some run/pass options to loosen up Denver’s defense and make them think a little bit. Maybe Cam will play more loose in the two-minute drill. I wonder if Cam wanted to prove to the world and make a point that he is a great pocket passer and is playing right into Denver’s strength on defense.
Kevin Scholla: After weeks of hearing about the two quarterbacks, it’s nice to see some solid rushes from running backs and spectacular plays from defenders in both sides.
Dan Leberfeld: Peyton Manning called his famous “Omaha” audible on that long run by C.J. Anderson.
Dan Leberfeld: Denver safety Darian Stewart having a terrific game. 220-pound safety who hits like a linebacker. Undrafted free agent out of South Carolina who bounced around the league.
Tony Lee: And there it is. Missouri standout Kony Ealy picks off Peyton Manning as Denver was about to take a two-score lead. He returns it to the 40. Now Carolina has a chance to take the lead going into halftime and then get the ball back to the start the second half.
Tony Lee: Carolina looking discombobulated. Fullback Mike Tolbert (can’t do the Carlton dance when you cough up the ball) fumbles as Carolina was driving in Denver territory. Carolina has put the ball on the ground in various (including after players were down by contact) at least five times already. Denver gets the ball back at its 40.
Dan Leberfeld: Carolina’s Kawann Short is a superb defensive tackle who doesn’t get as much attention as he deserves perhaps due to playing in a small market.
John Pudner: Norwood’s incredible touchdown punt return against Steelers was wiped away to almost cost the Broncos a playoff spot – but tonight his record return against the Panthers regains the momentum. But another Broncos penalty makes them settle for a field goal.
Kevin Scholla: Not making a hit on that punt return is the product today’s sissified league. Players scared of penalties not following through on what they were taught for years afraid of a flag.
Tony Lee: San Francisco’s field has notoriously been terrible. It may be why San Francisco’s defense over-performs at home. Pac-12 football teams–like Oregon, California, Stanford, and USC–that have played games on this field have all complained about the field in recent years.
Dan Leberfeld: How the heck do you have a field this bad for the Super Bowl? Inexcusable.
Denver 13, Carolina 7
Tony Lee: Carolina’s stout defense again stops Denver in the red zone with the help of a holding call on Denver that negated what would have been a first down. McManus converts the 33-yard field goal to put Denver up 13-7.
Dan Flynn: Carolina looked genuinely confused on the punt return, which turned out to be the longest in Super Bowl history. Initially, the punting team looked precariously close to interfering. Then several players appeared to believe a fair-catch signal had been called, which it clearly had not been called.
Tony Lee: After getting the ball near midfield, Carolina misses out on a chance to at least tie the game and goes three and out. Denver’s Jordan Norwood promptly returns the punt 61 yards–the longest in Super Bowl history. You get the feeling that Denver needs to get six here.
Dan Leberfeld: Hiring Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer to promote your product is a slap in the face to conservatives.
Kevin Scholla: If Denver loses, you can point back to these last few sequences. The game could’ve realistically been about 24-0. Broncos had a chance to make the Panthers doubt themselves. Now it’s even Steven.
John Pudner: Super Bowl memories for Elway from the Broncos’ booth. Elway’s dreams of repeating the upset of the Packers in one Broncos Super Bowl interrupted by a quick nightmare remembering his 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter before the Broncos fell apart against the Redskins and Doug Williams’ 35-point second quarter in Super Bowl XXII.
Dan Leberfeld: Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips needs to take stop using CB Aqib Talib on WR Philly Brown. It’s a bad match-up.
Cole Muzio: Without a doubt, Aqib Talib early frontrunner for Panthers’ Super Bowl MVP.
Denver 10, Carolina 7
Tony Lee: And just like that, the Panthers drive down the field 73 yards and Jonathan Stewart plunges into the end zone for a touchdown.
Tony Lee: Don’t ever count Cam out. I remember Alabama being up 24-0 in the 2010 Iron Bowl. And then Cam did his thing to lead Auburn to the largest comeback win in Iron Bowl history. And the game was played in Tuscaloosa.
John Pudner: Carolina’s sack of Manning and first downs give them a chance to stop the bleeding as the first quarter comes to an end. We noted quarterback’s PASSING not RUNNING has been key factor to winner of past Championships, and Broncos trying to make Cam do it from in the pocket.
1st Quarter: Denver 10, Carolina 0
Cole Muzio: Hate to get on a soap box, but much is wrong with culture when not being nice gets you a penalty in the Super Bowl. Can we not agree that the elite grown men in this game can handle a little taunting?
Cole Muzio: Multiple high passes have Cam missing Kelvin Benjamin more than ever.
Dan Leberfeld: The match-up between Panthers journeyman right tackle Mike Remmers, who has been with six teams, against top-shelf pass rusher Von Miller, is a very bad one for Carolina.
Tony Lee: Boneheaded play by Talib to give Carolina a first down after the Broncos held Carolina to a three and out. Questionable to call that taunting penalty in the Super Bowl, but I guess things even out after the “incompletion” that wasn’t overturned. Talib breathes a sigh of relief as the Panthers cannot capitalize. Denver gets the ball back, and it’s up to Carolina’s defense to stop Denver and give Newton the ball back.
Cole Muzio: Not to absolve Cam, but some combination of refs, Cotchery, and Remmers are more to blame for turnover/TD than #1.
Dan Flynn: Von Miller strip-sack six. Denver D ripping off their Clark Kent suits early.
Kevin Scholla: Denver’s recipe for victory is to score early and to put doubt in inexperienced Carolina’s head. So far things are working to perfection if you’re the Broncos.
Tony Lee: Von Miller, showing why he’ll be Denver’s franchise player, forces a Cam Newton fumble. Malik Jackson recovers for the touchdown. 10-0 Broncos. Huge challenge
Kevin Scholla: Here we go again with what is a catch and what isn’t a catch. My 7-year old daughter knows when a ball is caught or not but grown men in the business of football have no idea. Another symptom of Goodell’s NFL.
Dan Leberfeld: Phil Simms said that Thomas Davis’ broken arm wasn’t a factor in practice during the week. NFL teams generally don’t tackle in practice, so that doesn’t mean much.
Tony Lee: Ron Rivera has been very successful with challenges this year. I was sure Carolina was going to win the challenge until Mike Caray thought they would overturn the call on the field. Naturally, the call on the field stood.
Dan Leberfeld: Putting CB Aqib Talib on TE Greg Olsen really smart. At 6-1, 205 he’s got great cornerback size, and he’s also very physical and won’t back down. And Olsen, a fast tight end, certainly won’t outrun him.
Tony Lee: The underrated Panthers defense holds Denver to a three and out. Panthers get the ball back. Let’s see if Newton tries to stretch Denver’s defense by going deep to Ginn or Philly Brown.
Tony Lee: So much for the preliminary “over” win for Lady Gaga’s national anthem. One Sportsbook officially timed it at 2:09. So “under” bettors seem to have won. I wonder how many people really bet on these random prop bets (last year, one sports book allowed people to bet on whether Katy Perry would show cleavage and, in the end, they determined that both sides were winners)
#LadyGaga‘s National Anthem, from first note to the completion of the first ‘brave’, is settled officially at 2 minutes and 9 seconds.
— Bovada Official (@BovadaLV) February 7, 2016
Tony Lee: Uncharacteristically, Panthers tight end Greg Olsen runs his route just a few inches short of the sticks. Riverboat Ron Rivera doesn’t gamble here this early in the game. Panthers punt it back to the Broncos.
Dan Leberfeld: Denver’s offensive line was patchwork earlier in the year due to injuries, but the patchwork group has become a lot more cohesive over the last month.
Dan Flynn: The NFL’s best defense faces its highest scoring offense on the second drive. Two things that makes this matchup interesting. On the one hand, Denver’s fast defense looks ideally suited to prevent Cam Newton’s legs from hurting them. On the other hand, the Broncos outstanding pass rush might counterintuitively open up hopes for Newton to exploit with runs up the middle.
Tony Lee: Cole made some great points about players under the radar who step up big in Super Bowls. If I had to pick a player on the Panthers, I’d choose linebacker Shaq Thompson. He’s the Panthers’s version of Arizona’s Deone Buccannon (played safety in college and plays linebacker int he pros). Thompson also played running back at Washington and I saw plenty of explosive runs in addition to fumble recoveries returned for touchdowns from him while he was at Washington. He’s a playmaker who has a nose for the ball.
Dan Flynn: Impressive first drive by Denver stifled in the red zone. They settle for three. Carolina defense looked jittery early. Gamble to blitz on first play backfired. But they regained their footing by the end of the drive.
6:45: Denver can’t score a touchdown after picking up three first downs. Brandon McManus kicks a 34-yard field goal to put Denver on the board.
John Pudner: Manning already off to a better start than his last Super Bowl vs. Seattle. Carolina dominated out of the gates the last two games – can they handle and early punch with Denver moving down the field?
Kevin Scholla: I like the aggressive approach of Denver out of the gate. Both teams should attack early and often against these stout defenses.
Dan Flynn: Panthers defer. Broncos receive. Peyton Manning needs to stop looking like Joe Namath in a Los Angeles Rams uniform and more like throwback Peyton Manning for the Broncos to win. In the postseason, Manning’s completion percentage bettered only Landry Jones and Brian Hoyer and his yards per completion beat only Jones, Hoyer, and AJ McCarron. He needs to author a few big plays, and avoid turnovers, for the Broncos to win. This first drive will help let us know which Peyton Manning shows up.
Super Bowl I vs. Super Bowl 50:
Not a single Green Bay Packers player shown in the Super Bowl I game program is bigger than Cam Newton (6’5, 250) pic.twitter.com/zlpNZCT3w6
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 7, 2016
Cole Muzio: Often, it’s not the stars that make something big happen in the Super Bowl. If I had to pick under-the-radar players who could be big difference makers, I’d go with Devin Funchess for the Panthers and Bradley Roby for the Broncos. The former Michigan-Ohio State rivals could be crucial for their teams. If past Super Bowls are any indication, ANY player can be the one to make it happen for their team.
6:34: Clete Blakeman doesn’t flip the coin. Thank goodness after his coin flip(s) in the Arizona-Green Bay playoff game. Panthers win the toss and they elect to defer.
6:30: Lady Gaga sings the National Anthem. She sings it in 2:21. The over/under was 2:20. “Over” prop bettors start out the Super Bowl happy.
Kevin Scholla: Cam Newton has been good for the game. In the Roger Goodell era of horrible rule changes and ridiculous verdicts, Newton, celebrations and all, has excited fans worldwide. The match-up is interesting in the respect that Peyton Manning played before Goodell sucked the life out of the league. Newton now has a chance to be a bright spot and give us something positive despite Goodell’s antics.
Cole Muzio: Most of the time when a younger quarterback faces off against a seasoned vet, the older signal caller is more likely to rise to the occasion. However, throughout their careers, Cam Newton has played better in big moments while Manning has often let the pressure get to him. Let’s see if this holds true tonight.
California Will Take All of Cam Newton’s Super Bowl Earnings:
I wonder if players will soon demand that “blue states” with high tax rates do not get awarded Super Bowls. As Forbes pointed out, California, with its confiscatory tax rates, will take all of Newton’s Super Bowl earnings:
Win on Sunday, and Newton will pay California a total of $159,560 in taxes in 2016. Lose, and he will pay $159,200, based on an income reduction of $51,000.
The result: Newton will pay California 99.6% of his Super Bowl earnings if the Panthers win. Losing means his effective tax rate will be a whopping 198.8%. Oh yeah, he will also pay the IRS 40.5% on his earnings.