SANTA CLARA, Calif. — In the end, Denver’s defense, led by Von Miller, was good enough to hand Peyton Manning his second Super Bowl title.
Showing the same ferocity they brought against Tom Brady in the AFC championship, the Broncos sacked NFL MVP Cam Newton six times and forced four turnovers to record their third Super Bowl victory in franchise history with a 24-10 win in Super Bowl 50 Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. It was their first since John Elway won consecutive Lombardi trophies in 1997 and ’98.
Miller strip-sacked Newton twice, leading to one defensive touchdown and one offensive touchdown. In total, the Broncos sacked passers seven times to tie a Super Bowl record. Newton finished 18-of-41 for 265 yards.
But Manning, playing perhaps his final NFL game, wasn’t much better. He lost a fumble and was just 13-of-23 for 141 yards, one interception, four sacks and one lost fumble.
The Broncos not only held Newton to 8-of-19 passing for 95 yards in the first half, they sacked him three times for 33 yards, including a strip sack by Miller which was recovered by Malik Jackson for a touchdown.
That touchdown put the Broncos up, 10-0.
Manning couldn’t get much going in the first half either. After leading the Broncos down the field on a 64-yard drive to open the game, Manning and the Broncos had to settle for the first of two Brandon McManus first-half field goals. Manning was just 9-of-16 for 76 yards and a bad interception to defensive end Kony Ealy after Manning locked in on Emmanuel Sanders.
Jonathan Stewart capped a nine-play, 73-yard drive with a 1-yard leap over the middle into the end zone to make it 10-7, Broncos. McManus added a 33-yard field goal for Denver, which took a 13-7 lead to the half.
The Panthers took the opening drive of the third quarter and had a lot of momentum following a 45-yard crossing route completion to Ted Ginn down to the Denver 35. The Panthers appeared ready to get in position to score a go-ahead TD but Jerricho Cotchery dropped a pass at the Broncos 5-yard line on the right sideline. Then Graham Gano missed a 44-yard field goal when the ball caromed high off the right upright.
The Broncos responded by coming right down the field after a pair of Manning passed to Emmanuel Sanders. But again, the Broncos couldn’t finish in the red zone, settling for a 30-yard field goal from McManus that put the Broncos up, 16-7, with 8:18 left in the third.
Philly Brown hauled in a 42-yard heave from Newton over the middle of the field, setting up the Panthers at the Broncos 38. But four plays later, Newton was intercepted by T.J. Ward. Ward fumbled the ball on his return and the Panthers nearly recovered at the Broncos 5. But linebacker Danny Trevathan was there to save the day.
After Manning drove the Broncos down to Carolina’s 42, he was strip-sacked at midfield with 13:17 left in the fourth. The Panthers recovered at midfield and drove down to the Broncos’ 21. But the drive stalled and the Panthers had to settle for a Gano 39-yard field goal, cutting Denver’s lead to 16-10 with 10:21 left in the fourth.
The Broncos followed the exact same script as the AFC championship, playing field position and giving the Panthers several chances to come from behind and win.
Miller’s second strip sack of Newton came with 4:04 left in the game and set the Broncos up at the Panthers’ 4. After a defensive holding call, C.J. Anderson ran it in from two yards for Denver’s first offensive touchdown of the game with 3:08 left. Manning found Bennie Fowler for the 2-point conversion.