When I made my Super Bowl prediction last week, I was beyond confident that Carolina was going to unload on Denver. I was sure that Cam Newton and that powerful rushing attack were going to pound the pass rush of Denver into the ground. I, in a word, was wrong. The Broncos defeated the Panthers 24 – 10. I thought the combination of the Panthers tough and explosive offense would grind their way to scores and their defense would shut down the Bronco Offense. Well, at least I was right about one thing.
The Panther defense did not allow Peyton Manning and the Denver offense to do much of anything. In fact, Denver’s offense only gained 194 yards during Super Bowl 50. They are the only team in Super Bowl history to have won the game despite less than 200 yards of offense according to Adam Shefter of ESPN.
This game, really, was decided between the Carolina Offense and the Denver Defense. The Denver defensive front seven clogged every rushing lane and pressured Newton from the first snap. The Broncos’ secondary locked down the Panther passing attack with a fantastic mixture of man and zone defense. Carolina’s best receiver Tight End Greg Olson was held to only 41 yards on 4 catches.
So called experts, myself included, believed there was “no way” that the Denver pass rush could do to Cam Newton what they did to Tom Brady two weeks previously. There again, the experts and I were dead wrong.
According to ESPN, Cam Newton was pressured on 42.9% of his throws! Think about that number for a second: that means that out of 10 pass plays, Newton was running for his life on over 4 of them. The 6 other attempts in this scenario, no one was open. ESPN would go on to report that when Denver pass rushers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware were on the field at the same time, Newton was 1/12 passing, was sacked 4 times, and fumbled twice. That, ladies and gentleman, is domination.
Those numbers alone though are not why the Broncos won. Carolina’s high-powered rushing attack was held to just 118 yards, 45 of those yards belonging to Newton. The Broncos’ defensive line won on 1st and 2nd down consistently all night. Consequently, Carolina faced 3rd and long a majority of the game and thus allowing Denver to dial up the pressure and bring the heat. Denver brought the blitz and connected routinely.
Let’s go into the numbers shall we? Von Miller: 2 ½ sacks and two forced fumbles, named Super Bowl MVP. DeMarcus Ware: 2 sacks. Darian Stewart: 1 sack. Chris Harris Jr: 1 sack. Derrick Wolfe: ½ sack. For those of you keeping score at home, that is 7 sacks. Pair that number of sacks with 3 forced fumbles and an interception and you have, like I said before, domination.