Final, Broncos 24-10: The Panthers couldn’t pull off the nearly impossible by mounting a last second comeback, and the Broncos, who totaled just 194 total offensive yards, proved this season defense wins championships.
Pass rusher Von Miller was nearly uncontainable with 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. The Broncos had seven sacks for 68 total yards.
The Panthers’ defense also was impressive, but their offense continuously shot themselves in the foot with four turnovers, including three lost fumbles.
Fourth quarter, 0:54, Broncos 24-10: After another three-and-out, the Panthers have one last chance for a comeback. They have the ball on their own 27-yard line.
Fourth quarter, 1:57, Broncos 24-10: The Broncos’ pass rush is way too much for the Panthers to handle. Newton hasn’t been comfortable all night, and he ate another big sack to push the Panthers back, eventually forcing a punt.
The Broncos take over on their own 37-yard line. The Panthers have two timeouts left.
Fourth quarter, 3:08, Broncos 24-10: The future MVP’s strip sack led to a C.J. Anderson touchdown and a successful two-point conversion from Manning to receiver Bennie Fowler.
Fourth quarter, 3:50, Broncos 16-10: Von Miller, however, is like caffeine.
The Broncos pass rusher strip sacked Cam Newton, and Denver has the ball on its own 10-yard line.
Miller has 2 1/2 sacks in the game, and two have been forced fumbles. He will be the MVP if the Broncos close this out.
Fourth quarter, 4:51, Broncos 16-10: Another drive, another three-and-out. The Broncos’ fourth quarter offense is enough to put most well-rested people to sleep.
Fourth quarter, 7:07, Broncos 16-10: The Broncos might have the best fourth-quarter defense ever if the last two games are any indication. They just shut down the Panthers for a three-and-out. The Broncos have to hope to drain the clock at this point.
Fourth quarter, 9:00, Broncos 16-10: The Broncos are losing steam, and the Panthers have a chance to gain some on this drive. The Panthers forced a three-and-out and have the ball on their own 28-yard line.
Fourth quarter, 10:21, Broncos 16-10: We’re back to a one-score game.
Graham Gano nailed a 39-yard field goal to put the Panthers back within a touchdown. It’s the Panthers’ first score since 11:25 was remaining in the second quarter.
Fourth quarter, 13:17, Broncos 16-7: Panthers pass rusher Kony Ealy is single-handedly keeping the Panthers in the game. He now has three sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. He just strip sacked Peyton Manning, and the Panthers have the ball on the 50-yard line.
Third quarter, 0:19, Broncos 16-7: Von Miller is officially the favorite to bring home the MVP if the Broncos win. He now has a strip sack that led to a touchdown and another half sack that just ended the Panthers’ drive.
The Broncos have the ball on their own 32-yard line.
Third quarter, 3:12, Broncos 16-7: The Panthers’ defense stepped up big, sacking Peyton Manning and forcing the punt. Kony Ealy, who had an interception earlier, was the one who brought Manning down. The Panthers have the ball on their own 19-yard line.
Third quarter, 5:44, Broncos 16-7: The Panthers are losing this game far more than the Broncos are winning it. Cam Newton just threw an interception that went straight through Ted Ginn’s hands and into Broncos safety T.J. Ward’s gut. Ward fumbled on the recovery, but it was recovered by Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan.
Third quarter, 8:18, Broncos 16-7: The Broncos finally increased their lead to two scores midway through the third quarter. The Broncos drove down the field into the red zone then had to settle for a 30-yard field goal — which they actually hit.
Third quarter, 10:54, Broncos 13-7: The Panthers continue to shoot themselves in the foot. Graham Gano missed a 44-yard field goal after Newton and wide receiver Ted Ginn led them down the field.
It appeared the Broncos were offsides on the field goal attempt, but a flag wasn’t thrown.
Halftime show, Broncos 13-7: Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyonce were all right. Katy Perry was better last year. And Bruce Springsteen was the best of all time. Sorry, U2.
End half, Broncos 13-7: The Panthers began to drive down the field but the half ended when Broncos pass rusher DeMarcus Ware sacked Cam Newton. The Panthers will receive to begin the second half.
Now get pumped for Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars’ halftime show.
Second quarter, 2:00, Broncos 13-7: We’re still stuck at 13-7 near halftime. The Broncos responded with their own three-and-out.
Second quarter, 3:17, Broncos 13-7: The Panthers went three-and-out, unable to capitalize on another big defensive play.
Second quarter, 4:23, Broncos 13-7: Manning couldn’t go through the whole game without a turnover. His short target to wideout Emmanuel Sanders was picked off by Panthers pass rusher Kony Ealy, who was dropping back in coverage. Ealy pulled it out of the air with just one hand and ran it back 19 yards.
The Panthers have the ball on their own 39-yard line. This game has been wild in the first half.
Second quarter, 6:32, Broncos 13-7: The Panthers just can’t stop shooting themselves in the foot. Fullback Mike Tolbert coughed up the ball when safety Darian Stewart hit him in the gut. Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan recovered it, giving them the ball on their own 40-yard line.
Second quarter, 6:58, Broncos 13-7: The Broncos couldn’t fully capitalize and only came out of great field position with a field goal.
Second quarter, 9:11, Broncos 10-7: The Panthers went three-and-out and were forced to punt. They thought Broncos returner Jordan Norwood signaled for a fair catch. He didn’t, and he ripped off a 61-yard return. The Broncos start the drive from the Panthers’ 14-yard line.
Second quarter, 10:54, Broncos 10-7: The Panthers are out of challenges, and we’re not even halfway through the second quarter. Manning threw an incomplete pass, but the ruling was changed to sack after he was down by contact. Rivera earlier challenged an incomplete pass and didn’t win.
The Panthers forced a three-and-out and have the ball on their own 49-yard line, so it did work out for them to some extent. It’s dangerous to be out of challenges this early, however.
Second quarter, 11:25, Broncos 10-7: For those afraid of a blowout, fear not. Jonathan Stewart just scored on a 1-yard leap, capping off an impressive Panthers touchdown drive.
Newton ran twice for 23 yards on that drive. He’s 6-of-10 passing for 63 yards.
End first quarter, Broncos 10-0: The Panthers face second and 11 at their own 46-yard line as we enter the second quarter.
First quarter, 1:15, Broncos 10-0: The Broncos faced third and 3 with on their own 20-yard line, when Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly came in unblocked and annihilated Manning for a 9-yard sack.
The Panthers have the ball on their own 27-yard line. Stewart is back in the game.
First quarter, 2:17, Broncos 10-0: Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart is questionable to return with a foot injury.
First quarter, 3:12, Broncos 10-0: The Broncos forced a three-and-out, then Aqib Talib was hit with a personal foul, giving the Panthers a first down. Carolina gained just 6 yards before punting, but the Broncos have the ball on their own 13-yard line. The Talib penalty could have been more costly, but it gave them poor field position.
First quarter, 6:27, Broncos 10-0: Oh boy. Broncos pass rusher Von Miller just strip sacked Newton, and Denver defensive end Malik Jackson recovered it for a touchdown. The Broncos’ defense came to play. That was after the Panthers came out with an incompletion and run for no gain.
First quarter, 7:23, Broncos 3-0: The defensive battle begins. The Panthers forced the Broncos to go three-and-out and now have the ball on their own 15-yard line after a Ted Ginn punt return for minus-1 yard.
First quarter, 9:19, Broncos 3-0: The Panthers could only get 9 yards on their opening drive as the Broncos forced a three-and-out and punt. The Broncos have the ball on their 25-yard line.
Cam Newton missed on a throw to a wide open Corey Brown on second down.
First quarter, 10:43, Broncos 3-0: The Broncos made the Panthers’ defense look semi-pedestrian with a solid drive to start Super Bowl 50.
Peyton Manning completed 18- and 22-yard passes as he led the Broncos into field goal position. Brandon McManus finished it off with a 34-yard boot.
First quarter, 15:00: The Panthers won the toss and chose to defer. The Broncos will begin the game with the ball.
6:35 p.m.: Lady Gaga crushed “The Star-Spangled Banner.” We’re off to a good start here.
6:14 p.m.: Tom Brady was booed by the Panthers and Broncos faithful during the ceremony. He was the only one.
It’s not a friendly crowd for Brady with Broncos and Panthers fans packing the house.
6 p.m.: Get to your TVs soon. The Super Bowl 50 MVP ceremony, featuring Tom Brady, will begin at 6:06 p.m. ET.
5 p.m.: There are no surprise inactives for the Broncos or Panthers.
Here are the Broncos’ inactives:
QB Trevor Siemian
DB Lorenzo Doss
DB Taurean Nixon
RB Juwan Thompson
OL Sam Brenner
OL Robert Myers
DL Darius Kilgo
Here are the Panthers’ inactives:
WR Brenton Bersin
CB Lou Young
DB Dean Marlowe
RB Brandon Wegher
RB Cameron Artis-Payne
WR Kevin Norwood
DE Ryan Delaire
4:15 p.m. ET: After two long weeks of anticipation, Super Bowl 50 finally is upon us.
Will Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton take the next step in his NFL career with a championship? Will Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning go out on top with his second ring? Will Manning even make it through the entire game? How many times will Newton dab?
We’ll find out in just over two hours.
NESN.com is live at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. for the festivities. Also make sure to check out all of our interviews from Radio Row this week on YouTube.
My prediction: The Panthers win in a 30-17 blowout.
The strength of the Broncos is their pass rush, and I can’t see them being able to get to Newton on a regular basis because the Panthers’ offense is so unpredictable. The Panthers also have a balanced defense that should be able to focus in on and stop the Broncos’ rushing attack, forcing Manning to beat them with his arm. That seems unrealistic, since the veteran quarterback has struggled in recent second halves.
For the Broncos to win, they’ll need to get off to a hot start like they did against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Even then, they’ll have to avoid the pitfalls other teams have run into against the Panthers, who had the best turnover ratio in the NFL this season.
Stay here for updates and analysis throughout the game.
Thumbnail photo via Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports Images