The Super Bowl is set and I’m going to have to settle for 1/2 of the matchup I was hoping for. The Denver Broncos will be facing off against the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. I wanted the New England Patriots to be there but Denver’s defense was too good and a missed extra point earlier in the game proved to be a difference maker for the Pats. The Panthers on the other hand continued to roll with a thrashing of the Arizona Cardinals. So it’ll either be the dream end to a dream season for Cam Newton and the Panthers or it’ll be the final curtain call for Peyton Manning’s illustrious career assuming he decides to hang em up. Please hang em up.
The biggest surprise of the weekend was how difficult the Bronco’s defense made Tom Brady’s life. Brady was sacked four times and barely completed 50% of his passes. He did throw for 310 yards and a touchdown but he was also intercepted twice. For New England they only have themselves to blame. They dropped their final two regular season games of the season thus losing home field advantage. They could’ve used that because Mile High definitely energized the Broncos defense and caused a wee bit of trouble for Stephan Gostkowski in the kicking game. The Denver D has really upped their game in recent weeks while their offense has done just enough to get by. Manning isn’t setting any records and he’s not dominating the game like he once could but with that defense they don’t need him to. Manning was efficient against New England passing for 176 yards, 2 TD and no turnovers.
Manning’s record all time against Tom Brady now sits at 6-11 but more importantly 3-1 in AFC Championship games. Manning will head to the Super Bowl for the fourth time looking to improve upon his 1-2 record there. Peyton also will break John Elway’s record for being the oldest QB to lead a team to the Super Bowl. Oh by the way Manning earned a cool $2 million by playing in 70% of the snaps in the AFC title game; he can earn another $2M by doing the same in the Super Bowl. That’s a lot of Papa John’s pizza.Over in the NFC, the Panthers blew out the Cardinals in a laugher 49-15. The game was over by the end of the first quarter when Carolina was up 17-0. The 49 points are the most ever for a victor in the NFC Championship game. The last time a team scored that many in a Conference title game was 1990 when the Buffalo Bills embarrassed the Oakland Raiders 51-3. I can assure you there was no dabbing being done by Jim Kelly and the Bills back then.
MVP Cam Newton threw for 335 yards, 2 TD while also rushing for two more. Corey Brown and Greg Olsen both had huge games receiving with 113 yards a piece. Carolina out gained Arizona in total offense 476 to 287, they also controlled time of possession 60/40. Carolina heads to their second Super Bowl in franchise history, their only other appearance was back in 2004 when Jake Delhomme and company lost to the New England Patriots 32-29.
The main story, similar to the AFC, was the defense of the Carolina Panthers. In total they forced 7 Arizona Cardinal turnovers. Carson Palmer threw 4 interceptions and lost 2 fumbles, while Patrick Peterson also lost a fumble on special teams. For what seems like the first time all season Carolina shut the door on their opponent when leading big in the second half. We nearly saw them collapse twice this season, most recently against the Seattle Seahawks last week and in Week 15 at the New York Giants. In this game there would be none of that talk.