In a season consisting of 15 wins, 45 regular-season touchdowns and becoming the cornerstone of the NFL’s No. 1 scoring offense, Cam Newton finally met his kryptonite: a Broncos defense that did not let up.
Denver’s defense pummeled Carolina’s signal-caller to the tune of a Super Bowl-record seven sacks, three turnovers, a measly 44-percent completion percentage and zero touchdowns.
If Newton is Superman, then Broncos pass rusher Von Miller was his Lex Luthor. Miller recorded 2.5 sacks and forced two fumbles of Newton, both of which were recovered by the defense and led to Denver’s only two touchdowns of the game. Miller’s performance earned him Super Bowl MVP.
Peyton Manning and his offense got into position for a field goal on their opening drive. Denver continued its dominance on its ensuing defensive outing by scoring on a fumble recovery – caused by Von Miller – that Malik Jackson covered up in the end zone.
Although Denver’s defensive unit was spectacular, the Panthers offense committed five false starts and one delay of game, which essentially killed some of their drives. The special teams unit also committed two penalties on two separate punt returns that backed up them up by 10 and 15 yards, respectively.
Despite the poor play from Carolina, it was down only 13-7 at the half thanks in part to a defense that sacked Manning five times on 28 dropbacks, and defensive end Kony Ealy, who forced two turnovers on Manning – a lost fumble and an interception.
Denver recorded the lowest amount of offensive yards by a winning team in the Super Bowl.
Down 16-10 with about four minutes left, Newton had a chance to come through for a touchdown drive that could have put Carolina up by one point, but the drive ended when Miller recorded another sack and his second forced fumble on Newton, which was ultimately recovered by DeMarcus Ware. Running back C.J. Anderson score from the goal line, and Manning found Bennie Fowler in the end zone to convert the two-point conversion and make it a 14-point game with less than three minutes remaining.
Carolina was unable to recover, leaving Denver victorious with a final score of 24-10.
With 265 yards and one interception, Newton had his worst performance of the season despite being Carolina’s leading rusher with 45 yards.
Manning had a mediocre night, passing for 141 yards and one interception.
The loss brought the Panthers to an 0-2 record in Super Bowls and Denver to a 3-5 record. Manning became the first quarterback to win Super Bowls with multiple franchises, his first one being with the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI nine years ago.
Out of the seven teams who finished a season 17-2, the 2015 Panthers are the only team to not win the Super Bowl.