Beyond the bison: Happily ever after

Doug Hendry, Senior Editor

Super Bowl 50 is in the books. The Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers–and Vegas Sportsbooks predictions–by two touchdowns for the team’s third Super Bowl trophy.

This Super Bowl took a turn away from recent history, as this championship was a clash of two stout defenses rather than a fight of prolific offenses. Denver got the better end of the battle, as the number one defense in the NFL limited Carolina to 10 points while forcing four turnovers.

Never trailing in the game, Gary Kubiak led his squad into a game on the biggest stage, one that many believed he had no chance of winning. But Kubiak knows his team’s strengths, and let those strengths do the work on the field to stop Cam Newton from leading Carolina down the field on each possession.

In fact, the Panthers hadn’t seen a defense like this all year, and were in for a rude awakening. Newton finished with a 55.4 passer rating after throwing 23 incompletions–several of which were overthrown to open receivers–and being sacked six times.

Von Miller, the leader of the Denver defense, had played the best game of his career in the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots. And somehow, he managed to top that in the Super Bowl, recording 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, one of which was recovered for a touchdown early in the first quarter.

Interestingly enough, Miller was taken second overall in the 2011 NFL draft, just one spot behind the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner–Newton. Funny how these things come full circle.

Of course, it comes down to more than just Miller having a superb game and Newton having a poor one. The entire Carolina offense was out of sync, unable to penetrate the defensive line or evade the Denver secondary.

And at the end of the best season in Carolina history, we did see some of the team’s true colors. Newton certainly gained plenty of fans throughout the season for how he enjoys the game of football. It also seemed as if his maturity had grown a lot since his rookie season. The way he handled his post-game press conference, however, reveals that he still has some work to do.

In this 24-10 victory, there is one man I have yet to mention from the Denver side–Peyton Manning. No matter the end result of the game or how he played, you knew the spotlight would be on him.

Despite a below-average performance on the offensive side, Manning secured that elusive second Super Bowl victory that he had been searching for since 2007. And Manning came back from the dead just this season–he regained the starting quarterback role in week 17 after being benched for injuries and poor play.

Manning will be 40 years old in less than two months, and will soon have to make a decision about his future. I think it’s time he calls it a career–with that second Super Bowl victory, he’s earned the right to go out on top.

And I won’t take anything away from the rest of the Denver team. It was an all-around effort in every aspect of the game. Denver might not have been a favorite at the beginning of the postseason despite being a No. 1 seed, but its play certainly will cement the team in Super Bowl history.

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