Super Bowl 50: A golden game?

* First published on Kettle Mag here.

Come the evening of February 7th, eyes around the world were on San Francisco’s Levi’s Stadium for Super Bowl 50. The final game of the 2016 season was about to play host to the long-awaited golden jubilee of America’s biggest game. Having battled through the regular season and post-season, it was time for the winners of the AFC Championship, the Denver Broncos, to take on the Carolina Panthers, the winners of the NFC Championship.

As you can see from my preview, both team’s quarterbacks are polar opposites. Super Bowl 50 would see the old-school Peyton Manning take on the exuberant Cam Newton. However, the true focus of the game would be on the surprisingly similar defenses.

Denver in control from the start

Denver opened the scoring with a field goal after a good opening drive. The Panthers struggled to respond against the league’s best defense. Carolina seemed to be lacking rhythm from the get-go, wasting first downs on runs.
Things went from bad to worse for Carolina when linebacker Von Miller took the ball from Newton, allowing Malik Jackson to recover the fumble for a touchdown. At the end of the first quarter, Denver were leading 10-0.

But the Panthers seemed to get back on track when RB Jonathan Stewart leaped over the pile for a touchdown in the second quarter. Brandon McManus added another field goal to the Broncos’ score before the half. Denver were leading 13-7 at the end of the first half.

Half-time flop?

As this was Super Bowl 50, big things were expected for the half-time show. British rock band Coldplay had been announced as the act for this year’s half-time show. However, following the success of Katy Perry (and Left Shark) last year, a lot of people were sceptical whether the right choice had been made for such a landmark show.

As Coldplay frontman Chris Martin told the press on media day, this year was supposed to encompass the past, present and future. So accordingly, previous performers Beyoncé and Bruno Mars were invited along.
On paper that sounds great, but in reality there was just too much going on. Beyoncé and Bruno Mars seemed to be battling it out for maximum airtime throughout their performances, which left Coldplay overshadowed. Strangely mesmerising dancers with vividly-coloured flowers floated around the rest of the field, adding to the general confusion and mish-mash of styles.

An ambitious idea, but sadly it didn’t quite work out.

Not Newton's night

Back to the football, where the only points of the third quarter came from another Denver field goal, as both defenses vied for control.

In the fourth, Carolina managed to cut Denver’s lead to 6 points thanks to a field goal by Graham Gano. However, mistakes from Carolina stopped them from closing the gap further. The Broncos sealed the win thanks to CJ Anderson’s touchdown run. The final score was 24-10 to Denver.
Cam Newton struggled to make plays all day against Denver’s defense. Newton was sacked 6 times, lost 2 fumbles, and threw an interception. Thanks to pressure from Wade Phillips’ unit, Newton was uncomfortable throughout the game, overthrowing receivers and unable to use his legs to make plays.

Manning's last game?

In what could have been his last game, Peyton Manning was serviceable if unspectacular, completing just 13 of his 23 passes for 141 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. However, he didn’t have to do much as the game was dictated by the defense.
Von Miller was named Super Bowl MVP (Most Valuable Player) for terrorising Newton with 2.5 sacks, setting up one of Denver’s scores.

Thanks to the Broncos’ defense, it looks like Peyton Manning may end his career on a high, hoisting the Lombardi Trophy one last time.

Did you watch the game? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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