After a wild AFC Championship and a lopsided NFC title game, the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers punched their tickets for the NFL’s Super Bowl 50 championship, taking place Sunday, Feb. 7 from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
The Broncos and five-time MVP quarterback Peyton Manning upended the defending champion New England Patriots for their second trip to the Super Bowl in the last three years, and eighth appearance overall, tying them with Pittsburgh, Dallas, and New England for most all-time. But Denver and Manning prove unsuccessful last time, falling to Seattle, 43-8, in one of the biggest blowouts in Super Bowl History.
This time around, Manning will stare down Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who is expected to win this season’s MVP trophy, and just powered his squad to a 49-15 drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals for the franchise’s second-ever Super Bowl berth.
Newton, who could become the third African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl, unleashed two touchdown passes and ran for two more against the vaunted Cardinals defense, upping his total number of touchdowns between the regular and postseason to 50.
The 26-year-old Newton will make his first start in a Super Bowl, while this will be Manning’s fourth foray as he seeks his second ring. In his previous three appearances, Manning’s gone 1-2, with his only victory coming in 2007.
But while a matchup between Newton and Manning, who at 39 is the oldest quarterback to ever guide his team to a Super Bowl, may be the most talked about aspect of the game each side’s defense deserves just as much credit and attention.
Each squad ranked in the top six in the NFL in points and yards allowed this season, and both are coming off exceptional conference championship performances. The Broncos top-ranked pass rush, which led the NFL with 52 sacks in the regular season, smothered New England quarterback Tom Brady for four sacks and hit him another 20 times while forcing two interceptions against the typically judicious passer.
Defensive ends Derek Wolfe and DeMarcus Ware, as well as linebacker Von Miller, led the Broncos frontline by combining for all four sacks and 15 of the quarterback hits. Miller also recorded one of Brady’s two picks.
However, Carolina’s defense looked just as sharp against an Arizona offense that finished No.1 in the league in total offense. Powered by cornerback Josh Norman, linebacker Luke Kuechly, and defensive lineman Kawann Short, the Panthers coaxed four interceptions out of quarterback Carson Palmer and generated three more turnovers while holding Arizona to just 287 total offensive yards.
Unfortunately, despite fans’ eagerness to see what could be one of the best title games in recent memory, two weeks must pass before the Super Bowl kicks off. In between weeks, the NFL will host its Pro Bowl from Hawaii, an exhibition matchup featuring every one of the league’s best players for a high-scoring affair.
After a full day of pre-game coverage the Super Bowl will have its kickoff at 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast by CBS.
Date: Sunday, Feb. 7
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS