Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 3°C Thursday 3 December 2020

3 reasons why the Broncos won Super Bowl 50 & 3 reasons why the Panthers lost

Defence and special teams were key factors in the Broncos’ third Super Bowl victory.

Von Miller.
Von Miller.

THE DENVER BRONCOS rode their defence and special teams to a 24-10 victory in Super Bowl 50, but it was the turnover differential that ultimately plagued the Carolina Panthers and decided the game.

Denver capitalised on Carolina’s disastrous turnovers and ugly penalties to claim their third Lombardi Trophy in franchise history as the most potent offence in the league crumbled against the league’s top defence.

Here are three reasons why the Broncos won Super Bowl 50

1. Broncos set tone with strip-sack score off Cam Newton

The newly crowned NFL MVP’s first encounter with the Broncos’ dominating defence was not a successful one.

Newton was drilled by linebacker Von Miller on a blind-side sack halfway through the first quarter, allowing defensive end Malik Jackson to scoop the fumble for a touchdown to give Denver an early 10-0 lead. It was the first fumble recovery for a touchdown in the Super Bowl since James Washington’s for the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVIII in 1994.

But the strip-sack was just the beginning for Newton and the Panthers.

In total, Newton was sacked six times, with Miller registering a team-high 2.5 sacks, as he threw an interception and fumbled twice. Denver’s suffocating defence added a seventh sack on wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr, who went down on an aborted trick play.

The Broncos pounced on the Panthers’ devastating turnovers and costly penalties to hold the league’s highest-scoring team to their lowest-scoring output since a 28-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints on October 30, 2014.

2. Jordan Norwood breaks punt return record

The Broncos return man barely missed being the first player to return a punt for a touchdown in Super Bowl history.

Norwood set a Super Bowl record with a 61-yard punt return during the first half. The return came halfway through the second quarter when Norwood fielded the kick at the Broncos’ 25-yard line and sprinted down the sideline before eventually being chased down by Mario Addison, who tripped him up at the Panthers’ 14-yard line.

The glory of the longest punt return in Super Bowl history previously belonged to San Francisco 49ers wide receiver John Taylor, who returned a Bengals punt 45 yards in Super Bowl XXIII in 1989.

3. Controlling the game pace

The Broncos entered Super Bowl 50 with the intention of controlling the game from the ground in order to take the pressure off veteran quarterback Peyton Manning, and they successfully accomplished their goal.
C.J. Anderson was the Broncos’ workhorse in the backfield, as the running back led the team with 90 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Denver’s offence averaged just 3.5 yards per play, but kept a consistent cadence that, alongside a dominant defence, never allowed Carolina to establish a rhythm.

Three reasons why the Panthers lost

Super Bowl Football Cam Newton (1) walks off the field. Source: Matt York

1. Turnovers

It is hard for any team to win a game when it loses the turnover battle. The Panthers turned the ball over four times after leading the NFL during the regular season with a plus-20 turnover differential.

Newton fumbled twice and threw an interception while fullback Mike Tolbert lost one of two fumbles and the Panthers were never able to get on track.

Carolina led the NFL in points scored during the regular season and were dominant in a 49-15 win over the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC championship game. However, the young Panthers wilted in the spotlight against a ferocious Broncos defence.

2. Dropped passes

Newton was off all night, completing just 18 of his 41 passes for 265 yards and was held without a touchdown pass for the first time since Thanksgiving. The Panthers acted like they were playing with a buttered ball on Sunday.

Carolina receiver Jerricho Cotchery had three critical drops and Ted Ginn Jr had a pass go right through his hands, allowing TJ Ward to make an interception as the Panthers were driving deep inside Denver territory.

It was not just the Panthers’ receivers who had dropped passes, Carolina’s defensive backs missed a couple of opportunities for turnovers by letting would-be interceptions slip through their fingers.

3. Quarterback pressure

The Broncos led the NFL in sacks this season and were dominant against a very good Panthers offensive line.

Carolina had no answer for game MVP Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware while Derek Wolfe and Sylvester Williams collapsed the pocket in front of Newton.

Denver sacked Newton six times and added a seventh sack by dropping Ginn on an attempted quarterback throwback pass.

Newton was never able to get the Panthers offence into any sort of rhythm. Even when they were not sacking Newton, the Broncos hit him 13 times and forced him to scramble on several other occasions.

Tearful Peyton Manning address inspired team>

Martin O’Neill was analysing the Super Bowl on BBC>

About the author:

The42 Team

Read next: