Super Bowl 50: Denver's defence batters Carolina to win the Lombardi Trophy
Peyton Manning can ride off into the sunset with a second Super Bowl ring, but it was his defence that won the day.
The Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50 with a superb defensive performance at Levi's Stadium last night, throttling the Carolina Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton on the way to a 24-10 victory.
Newton was sacked seven times, losing two crucial fumbles, one for a touchdown and another where it appeared he backed away from diving on the loose ball, and completed just 18 of 41 passes on a day the regular season MVP will want to forget.
Von Miller was the hero for the Broncos as they lifted the Lombardi Trophy for a third time, leading another masterclass from defensive coordinator Wade Phillips with two forced fumbles and 2.5 sacks, a performance that earned him the Most Valuable Player award.
Manning and Denver were also able to muster little in terms of offence, throwing for just 141 yards, but he didn't need to do much as the defence kept forcing and punishing mistakes from the Panthers.
The victory draws Manning level with brother Eli's two wins with the New York Giants, and made him the first quarterback to win 200 games in NFL history. Manning held off on announcing his retirement in his post-game interview, but is widely expected to hang up his boots after this success.
Denver knew they needed to start fast and after picking up a field goal on their opening drive, the defence came up big when Miller strip sacked Newton, the only player taken ahead of him in the 2011 draft, and Malik Jackson recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Denver are the only team in Super Bowl history to give up a ten-point deficit in the big game, and when Carolina finally got something going on offence, running back Jonathan Stewart finished off a 73-yard drive with an athletic leap into the end zone to make it 10-7.
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The defences were proving dominant on both sides as neither Manning nor Newton could manage 100 yards passing in the first half.
Denver added to their lead after Jordan Norwood broke out the biggest punt return in Super Bowl history, a 61-yarder that set up a second Brandon McManus field goal, but the Panthers had defensive lineman Mario Addison to thank for hustling back to prevent a touchdown.
Carolina missed the chance to cut the gap to three when British-born kicker Graham Gano's field goal hit the upright, while McManus made no mistake at the other end to make it 16-7.
Defensive end Kony Ealy was making his own MVP case for the Panthers, adding a sack fumble of Manning to an earlier interception of the Broncos passer, a turnover which allowed Gano kick another field goal to make it 16-10, setting up a grandstand finish.
The Panthers did their job and stopped the Broncos offence to give Newton the chance to write his name in NFL folklore, but his season instead ended in controversial fashion when he appeared to back away from diving on a loose ball after another strip-sack from Miller.
DeMarcus Ware pounced on the ball for the Broncos and CJ Anderson scored on a short touchdown run to seal the win for Denver.