Sideline Report: Super Bowl 50 — Peyton’s gotta retire now, right?

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Braden Shaw, JagWire editor-in-chief

It’s either the best time of year or the worst time of year for football fans. The Super Bowl is the culmination of the NFL season where (hopefully) the two best teams meet to decide the champion of the entire league. But, it also means that football is finally over, which leaves sports fans eagerly awaiting March Madness to wet their sports appetite.

Going into Super Bowl 50, I was expecting a blowout. If you read last week’s blog, you noticed that I predicted the Carolina Panthers to dominate the Denver Broncos on both sides of the ball. On paper, that should have happened. Quarterback Cam Newton won the league MVP the night before, and they had all of the momentum going into the big game.

So, I settled in Sunday night as I watched the NFL recognize every Super Bowl MVP in history. It was a nice touch to remember the greats of both past and present. (It also was nice to see Tom Brady booed.) Shortly after Lady Gaga’s rendition of the national anthem and the coin flip from Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, the game finally began.

To be honest, both offenses could not do anything to save their lives. Newton missed throws he consistently made throughout the year, and Peyton Manning just looked OK. For the majority of the first half, the Broncos either failed to convert on third down or got a good drive going and were stalled in the red zone by the tough Panthers defense.

At the end of the first quarter, the Broncos held a 10-point lead, thanks to a field goal from kicker Brandon McManus and a fumble recovery in the end zone by defensive end Malik Jackson. It was sloppy and not very exciting to watch.

The second quarter was only marginally better as Newton finally completed some passes and orchestrated a nice drive down the field, capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by running back Jonathan Stewart. That score cut the Broncos’ lead to 10-7. The Broncos would go on to add another McManus field goal, extending their lead to 13-7 with 6:25 left in the first half. Neither of these offenses looked like they deserved to be on this stage, but the defenses were playing great to match the inability of each quarterback.

Halftime finally came as the Broncos held a 13-7 lead. I still thought at this moment that the Panthers could figure it out in the locker room and make this game interesting. As the teams planned in their respective locker rooms, Coldplay — along with fellow performers Bruno Mars and Beyoncé —  actually put on a terrific halftime show to take people’s minds off the terrible play on the field. (Check out senior Justin Curto’s latest blog for more on the halftime show.)

The third quarter came and went as the offenses continued to struggle converting in key situations. Newton either overthrew receivers or they straight up dropped balls repeatedly, and Manning set the Super Bowl record for consecutive failed third down attempts. Another McManus field goal extended the lead to 16-7 Broncos, and it became even more tiresome to watch.

Finally, in the fourth quarter, the Panthers strung some plays together and converted a field goal by kicker Graham Gano to cut the lead to a one-possession game. It looked as though this game might go down to the wire after all. Manning’s offenses couldn’t move the ball and continued to punt, giving Newton’s team multiple chances to tie the game or take the lead. But then it happened.

With 4:04 left in the game, Newton dropped back in shotgun formation on third and nine. As he did so, Broncos linebacker Von Miller came off the edge and made a terrific play, both sacking Newton for a nine-yard loss and also stripping the football. As the ball lay on the ground, the Panthers title hopes hung in the balance. Players from both sides fought for possession, as this play might just decided the game. Except, Newton stood there, watching.

I respect players not trying to get hurt, but you have got to be kidding me. This is the biggest game of Newton’s life and he looked like he was ready to just give, only down one possession. It’s ridiculous, and this was when I realized the Panthers didn’t deserve to win. They didn’t have the pure determination to win.

After the Broncos recovered the fumble, they drove down and finally scored an offensive touchdown off a two-yard run from running back C.J. Anderson. Paired with a successful two-point conversion, the Broncos now held a 24-10 lead. And, the rest is history.

The Broncos are now the world champions after a 24-10 victory over the Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Miller won the Super Bowl MVPdeservedly so — and questions of Manning’s retirement immediately came to mind. He finally go that elusive second ring, and will hopefully just go out on top.

This was almost pitiful at times to watch as both teams failed to perform in key situations, such as throwing interceptions, or not scoring a touchdown after the greatest punt return in Super Bowl history. But, there had to be a difference maker, and that was the defense of the Broncos, which made more than enough plays to secure a title.

Peyton Manning has his storybook ending, and fans of football saw one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time (probably) ride off into the sunset. What more could you ask for?

Junior Braden Shaw is a passionate sports fan who follows sports at both the college and professional level. He loves to defend his unpopular opinions on the University of Nebraska, Sporting KC, Chiefs and Royals and is always up for a debate over any game or team.

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