With the confetti falling and cameras flashing, Tracy Wolfson of CBS asked Peyton Manning whether or not this was his last game.
“I got a couple of priorities first,” Manning said. “I want to go kiss my wife and kids, I want to hug my family, and I'm going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight Tracy. I'm going to take care of those things first before I make my decision.”
If this is in fact Peyton Manning last game, he will join John Elway, Denver's GM, as the only two quarterbacks to finish their career with a Super Bowl victory and will be the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl at the age of 39.
The Broncos 24-10 victory over the Panthers proved once again that defense wins championships. Broncos sacked MVP, Cam Newton, 7 times and forced him to make three turnovers. Two turnovers were caused by the MVP of Super Bowl 50, Von Miller, who strip Newton twice rushing off the edge. Miller's first strip sack led to the first touchdown of the game when Malik Jackson fell on the loose ball in the endzone.
Miller finished with 6 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Miller also had a big game against the Patriots in the AFC championship game, sacking Tom Brady 2.5 times.
In my preview, I said the Broncos would win because of their defense and would have to disrupt the Panthers offensive movement and that’s exactly what they did. Defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, called the perfect game with his blitzes and stunts that confused Cam and the Panthers' offense. The Broncos defensive line did a great job applying pressure up the middle, and used Demarcus Ware on a delayed blitz numerous times.
The Broncos secondary also played great, not allowing the Panthers receivers to create space. A few of those sacks were because of the secondary, which left Cam holding the ball too long. It was great effort by the entire unit to hold the league's best scoring offense to only 10 points.
Cam finished with 45 yards rushing, which is higher than his season average, but it wasn't enough to help the Panthers put points on the board. I mentioned that Cam would have to improvise in order for the Panthers to score and the one time he did - two scrambles outside of the pocket - the Panthers scored their only touchdown. The Panthers needed Cam to scramble and make plays with his legs but he only rushed the ball 7 times while attempting 41 passes.
Cam never seemed to be comfortable in this game and seemed to be very tight. A lot of his passes early on were sailing and he was hesitant to scramble outside of the pocket. He didn't look like the youthful-exuberant Cam we seen all season. It look like the pressure of the big game got to him.
The Panthers defense played great also. They only allowed 1 offensive touchdown and force the Broncos to kick three field goals on four redzone opportunities. Kony Ealy played lights out, finishing with, four tackles, three sacks, an interception and forced fumble. The Panthers defense proved to be fast when they jumped on a few of the Broncos receivers routes.
Peyton Manning didn't have a great game but he made sure the Broncos didn't waste opportunities. Statistically, this was Manning's worst season, but it showed his growth as a player and one that is on the verge of retiring. Manning understood that the defense were going to be the ones who carried this team to the promise land and he understood it in tonight's game. While everyone made the story-line about this possibly being Manning's last game, he allowed the defense to shine.
If this is Manning's last ride, this will be the perfect storybook ending to a great career. For his entire career the narrative was that he never had a defense. In Indy, he missed out on a number of Super Bowl trips because the Colts couldn't stop opposing offenses. So for Peyton to end his career relying on a defense, and not his passing ability, its hard to make up that script.