It wasn't the prettiest football game we've ever seen, but fans of the Denver Broncos don't care one bit about style points this evening.
The Broncos, in Peyton Manning's final NFL game, rode a fierce defense that harassed Cam Newton all night long and walked away with their third Lombardi Trophy, defeating the Carolina Panthers by a final score of 24-10 at Levi's Stadium.
Denver got on the board first, courtesy of a 34-yard field goal by Brandon McManus. The Denver defense then made their first huge play of the night, as Von Miller stripped Newton deep in Carolina territory, and Malik Jackson fell on the ball in the end zone for the first touchdown of the evening, giving the Broncos a 10-0 lead.
Carolina answered back with their only touchdown of the evening, as Jonathan Stewart went over from a yard out to cut the lead to 10-7. McManus added a 33-yard field goal before the half, and the Broncos went into the locker room with a 13-7 halftime lead.
McManus gave the Broncos the only points of the third quarter with a 30-yard field goal to extend the lead to 16-7. Graham Gano then added a 39-yard field goal to get the Panthers back to within 16-10 early in the fourth quarter. Denver then got their only offensive touchdown of the night on a 1-yard run by C.J. Anderson, and the two-point conversion put the Broncos ahead by a count of 24-10. The Anderson touchdown was set up by yet another sack by Miller that saw Newton fumble again, with the Broncos recovering inside the Carolina 5 for the easy score.
Manning may have put up the worst performance for a Super Bowl winning quarterback ever, as he completed 13-of-23 passes for 141 yards, no touchdowns and an interception by Kony Ealy. C.J. Anderson was the big dog on offense for the Broncos, carrying the ball 23 times for 90 yards and a touchdown. Emmanuel Sanders led the Broncos in receiving, accounting for 83 of Manning's yards on six receptions.
Newton was off all night long for the Panthers, as he completed 18-of-41 passes for 265 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception by T.J. Ward. Newton was also the Panthers' leading rusher, carrying it six times for 45 yards. The Broncos kept Jonathan Stewart in check, limiting him to 29 yards on 12 carries. Corey Brown was the leading receiver for the Panthers, putting up 80 yards on four receptions.
The big story in this one, however, was the Denver defense. They sacked Cam Newton seven times, with Von Miller accounting for 2.5 of them. Miller also forced Newton to fumble twice, with those fumbles leading directly to 15 of Denver's 24 points. Miller was named the MVP of the game for his efforts, and so he should have been.
Congratulations to the Denver Broncos, and our friends over at Mile High Report on being able to celebrate their team bringing home the big prize. With that, the 2015-16 season is officially over with. Thank you to all of you that spent your time here for Minnesota Vikings' games or otherwise here at The Daily Norseman, and we hope you'll stay with us through the offseason as well.