The Broncos defense smothered Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers offense in a 24–10 victory during the big game in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday.

From the beginning, it was apparent that the Broncos came to play. After receiving the ball on the kick-off, Peyton Manning read the Carolina defense, knew they were blitzing, called an audible, and created four big plays in which the Broncos converted a field goal.

Despite the brilliance shown by the Broncos on the first drive, both offenses were halted.

Newton reverted to his bad habit of over-throwing receivers, while Manning’s passes lost every semblance of velocity. Both  teams failed to establish their running games, although C.J Anderson rushed for 90 yards.

The game was won on the defensive side of the ball, so it was fitting for the best defensive player in the game, Von Miller, to be named MVP.

Early on, Miller made his presence clear by strip-sacking Newton, which led to a defensive touchdown by Malik Jackson. The MVP ended the game with 2.5 sacks, two QB hits, one pass defended, and two forced fumbles.

The numbers, however, don’t tell the entire story. Not only was Miller consistently in Newton’s face, but linebacker DeMarcus Ware added another two sacks, and four QB hits, while defensive end Derek Wolfe added half a sack. The entire defense totaled seven sacks and 13 QB hits. The moments when the pass rush wasn’t swift enough, the Broncos defensive backs played spectacular coverage, forcing Newton to hold on to the ball for far too long, which generated either a sack, a QB hit, or a wasted down.

On Carolina’s only touchdown drive, the NFL’s most recent season MVP scrambled for 23 of the total 73 yards amassed on the drive. Newton finished 18 of 41 for 265 yards in the air and 45 yards on the ground, for an abominable 16.9 quarterback Rating (QBR). The Panthers trio of running backs amassed a total of 73 yards for the entire contest. Both Newton and running back Mike Tolbert fumbled twice. In simple terms, Carolina’s offense was dazed.

Stopping the run was the key to beating Carolina. The Panthers predicated their offense all season on the run, and finished second in rushing yards during the regular season. The consistent run attack forced the defense to protect the entire field and opened up the play action pass for Newton. Generally, the play action pass opens up designed QB runs. The lack of the run game shut down Carolina’s offense and forced Newton to beat the Broncos defense with just his arm alone. Clearly, it wasn’t enough.



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