It wasn’t a Super Bowl for the ages, but it was an upset and perhaps dramatic because it was likely Peyton Manning’s last game of a Hall of Fame career, a 24-10 win over Carolina that gave Manning his second championship.
Ten takeaways from the Bronco victory…
1) Lady Gaga turned in a magnificent rendition of the National Anthem. She’s theatrical and her 2:30 made people that bet the over happy. But she’s an amazingly talented singer and did herself proud with her performance.
2) Peyton Manning looked and played like an old man. He was 4-6 for 37 yards on Denver’s first drive, and just 9-17 for 104 yards after that. He was able to ride a great defense to the victory, but just didn’t play well. This is the ideal way for Manning to go out. Be remembered for going on with a Super Bowl win, not in another foreign uniform with a losing record.
3) The Denver defense may be one of the best ever. ESPN’s John Clayton asserted that the “Orange Rush” might be among the best five or six defenses in NFL history, and I questioned that. But when you look at their talent, their overall success and their historical place, it’s reasonable. The Broncos were first in overall defense and first against the pass, and third against the run. If they would have allowed 2.2 fewer yards per game against the run, they would have been the third team since 1970 to finish first overall and first against the run and pass. Then in the playoffs, they shut down a diminished Steelers team and stifled the Patriots before allowing the powerful Carolina offense just ten points. One of the five or six best ever is fair.
4) You need to protect the passer…even if your quarterback is Superman. Cam Newton was sacked six times by the ferocious Denver defense. He was sacked five times in ALL of September and six times in October, and wasn’t sacked more than five times in a game all season until this one. The Bronco defense didn’t give him a chance, and that was the story of the game.
5) Kony Ealy did Mizzou proudly. The Tiger had three sacks, an interception that looked like it was going to be a James Harrison type return, and also a strip/sack/recovery. He was the best front seven player for the Panthers in the Super Bowl.
6) Denver couldn’t take advantage of turnovers and a long punt return. Of course, the Broncos got the late touchdown after a strip/sack of Newton. But the Broncos couldn’t take advantage of starting position at Carolina’s 14 (field goal), their own 40 (Ealy’s interception), and their own 34 after a missed field goal (field goal). They finally got a seven (actually an eight) rather than a three late in the game to put it away, but they left themselves in a precarious position when they didn’t take better advantage of opportunities.
7) Ballpark Village exploded during and after Terry Crouppen’s #SlamStan commercial. Of course, the spot went viral nationally last week, but we wanted to see it during the broadcast here in St. Louis. It’s always good to see and hear someone defend our community, and Mr. Crouppen did a great job of it. I was at Ballpark Village for their party, and he got a rousing ovation. Otherwise, my favorite spot was the Shock Top commercial with the guy (comedian T.J. Miller) talking to the Shock Top mascot on the draft beer lever. Very funny.
8) Discipline was perhaps a product of inexperience for Carolina. After committing only three penalties in the first half, they were flagged nine times for 82 yards in the second. It seemed like the lost some poise after halftime, and those penalties played a role in their inability to come back in the second half. Only six Panthers had played in the Super Bowl. The stage may have been too big this time.
9) Did we need Coldplay at halfime? They were fine, but Bruno Mars and Beyonce stole the show. In five years, we’ll remember the “secondary” talents, rather than the “main attraction.”
10) Ten franchises have accounted for 63 of the 100 Super Bowl appearances, and 39 of the 50 Super Bowl wins (78%). Those ten teams are the Steelers (8 games, 6 wins), Dallas (8/5), New England (8/4), Denver (8/3), San Francisco (6/5), New York Giants (5/4), Green Bay (5/4), Washington (5/3), Raiders (5/3) and Miami (5/2). Buffalo and Minnesota are both 0-4 in Super Bowls too, so 71 of 100 appearances have come from 12 teams, 29 appearances and eleven wins are from the other 30 franchises.