Denver's defense ruled the Super Bowl

By Steve Sell
February 08, 2016

I’ll probably be in the minority here, but as somebody who has watched all 50 Super Bowls this one fell flat for me.

Let’s just say it definitely wasn’t in my Top 10 of all time. I know Denver is considered as somewhat of a regional team around these parts as a number of Broncos fans populate the area, but that doesn’t sway my opinion.

Denver’s 24-10 defensive dismantling of Carolina on Sunday was a methodical affair littered with Panther mistakes created by the Broncos’ relentless pressure.

Had it not been for Denver’s point-producing defense, we could have been looking at one of the all-time offensive clunkers, harkening back to the days when Miami defeated Washington 14-7 in 1973 in one of the all-time SB snor-fests.

Carolina lost three fumbles and Cam Newton also threw a pick, as well as having some of his passes hit receivers in the hands, only to be dropped. The Panthers also were whistled for 12 penalties for 102 yards, double the Broncos’ output.

Denver won this game despite 194 yards of offense. While the story was all about Peyton Manning after the game, he was little more than a game manager during it. He was 13 of 23 for 141 yards, which used to be his output in some quarters. He was more of an admiring spectator as the Broncos’ Von Miller played as though he was being blocked by air, while DeMarcus Ware spent the game sticking needles in a Jerry Jones voodoo doll, making him squirm as to why he ever gave up on a potential Hall of Famer. 

This Denver defensive performance brought up memories of the Chicago Bears’ domination in the 1986 Super Bowl. The Broncos made Carolina’s offensive line look like a fivesome of Eric Fishers, recording seven sacks of the bombastic Cam Newton, who was reduced to little more than a mute in his postgame press conference. Note to Cam: take advice on how Manning has stood up to the media after a Super Bowl loss instead of the mopefest you put on.

Maybe the extra week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl took the steam out of Carolina. It had that Seattle Seahawks look of two years ago, a monster of a team ready to roll over Manning and make him look like a candidate for the old folks home. ESPN barkers Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith talked all week how they feared for Manning’s safety. As it turned out, they should have been worried about their beloved Newton, whose feet they had kissed all week leading up to the broadcast. It’s a good thing he’s about 6-5 and 240 pounds because had it been Manning taking those hits, he would have been in the whirlpool for days.

Denver deserves all the credit here. It’s obvious the defense rallied around Manning and wanted to take the pressure off him. It was a shoe-on-the-other-foot game because for so many years it was all about Manning putting his team on his back and hoping the defense came along for the ride. But Miller, Ware and the gang played with such ferocity, such intensity, that Manning did little more than take the offense out on a test drive in what hopefully will be his final game.

Manning has nothing more to prove. He has his two Super Bowls to tie his little brother. Two Super Bowls cements his legacy, which to me already had been cemented. His body has been battered and he’s going to make gazillions as a pitch man. He’s going to be a regular host for Saturday Night Live and probably receive a king’s ransom to be an analyst for one of the many networks that saturate the airwaves. 

I hope Peyton doesn’t pull a Johnny Unitas or Joe Willie Namath and hang around one year too long. Ride into the sunset and enjoy the rest of your life.