Peyton Manning triumphantly completed what could be his final season with a Super Bowl title.
The Hall of Fame-bound quarterback can thank the Denver Broncos defense for making it possible.
Linebacker Von Miller on Sunday led an onslaught that threw NFL most valuable player Cam Newton off his game and gave the Broncos a 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium.
BRONCOS’ SUPER BOWL TITLES
1998: Beat Green Bay, 31-24
1999: Beat Atlanta, 34-19
2016: Beat Carolina, 24-10
Miller, voted the game’s most valuable player, forced two fumbles, one that defensive end Malik Jackson recovered in the end zone for a touchdown, C.J. Anderson rushed for a touchdown and Brandon McManus kicked three field goals as the Broncos won the Super Bowl for the first time since winning consecutive titles in the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
The victory gave Manning his second championship in four Super Bowl appearances. The Broncos finished with a record of 15-4. They are now 3-5 in Super Bowl games.
Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, a longtime Broncos backup to legendary quarterback John Elway, won the title in his first season. Elway won his first title as the franchise’s general manager.
The Broncos sacked Newton seven times. Miller had 2½ sacks and linebacker DeMarcus Ware had two.
Manning completed 13 of 23 passes for 141 yards, with an interception.
Newton completed 18 of 41 passes for 265 yards, with an interception and two fumbles. The Panthers finished the season with a record of 17-2.
The Broncos led, 13-7, at halftime and benefited from some good luck early in the third quarter.
The Panthers took the first possession and drove down the field on completions from Newton to wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. before they stalled at the 27-yard line.
Graham Gano came on to attempt a 44-yard field goal that would have pulled the Panthers to within three points, but the ball hit the right upright and bounced away.
Manning took advantage, finding receiver Emmanuel Sanders for long gains on a drive that reached the Panthers’ 20-yard line, where Brandon McManus kicked his third field goal of the game for a 16-7 lead.
On the ensuing drive, Newton connected with Ginn for a long gain to start a drive but safety T.J. Ward intercepted a pass that tipped off Ginn’s hands to end the threat, sending the Broncos into the fourth quarter with a nine-point lead.
The Panthers had another chance when lineman Kony Ealy grabbed Manning’s arm on a pass attempt and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Panthers with 13:17 left. Gano’s 39-yard field goal pulled the Panthers to within 16-10.
The teams traded possessions before the Panthers got the ball back with 4:51 left at their 24. But Miller knocked the ball out of Newton’s hand and the Broncos recovered.
A few plays later, Anderson scored on a two-yard run, and Manning tossed a two-point conversion pass to Bennie Fowler for a 24-10 lead.
The Broncos had a 13-7 lead after two quarters filled with big defensive and special teams plays.
Manning completed nine of 16 passes for 76 yards, with an interception. Newton was eight of 19 for 95 yards and rushed for 46 yards in five carries. But he was sacked three times — one that led to a fumble recovered in the end zone for a touchdown
The Broncos got the ball first and Manning looked sharp at the outset.
Manning, playing in his fourth Super Bowl, started with an 18-yard completion to tight end Owen Daniels. It was one of the four passes he completed during a 10-play, 64-yard drive that stalled at the Panthers’ 17 and led to Brandon McManus’ 34-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Newton and the Panthers went three and out on their first possession but they got the ball back midway through the first quarter.
That set the stage for Miller, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft who has been a nightmare for offensive tackles.
On a third-and-10 play at the Panthers’ 15-yard line, Miller came off the left edge and slammed into Newton. He stripped the ball from Newton while getting the sack, and defensive end Malik Jackson fell on the ball for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead.
It was the first fumble recovery for a touchdown in a Super Bowl in 22 years.
Newton finished the first quarter four of eight for 31 yards but without a yard rushing.
That changed in the second quarter when he ran for 11 yards and then for 12 to soften the defense a bit. He completed a 19-yard pass to tight end Greg Olsen and a 13-yard strike to receiver Corey Brown to set up running back Jonathan Stewart’s one-yard dive into the end zone, cutting the deficit to 10-7.
But the Panthers’ punt coverage unit appeared confused later in the quarter, and it led to the longest return in Super Bowl history.
The Broncos’ Jordan Norwood looked as if he was going to call for a fair catch, but he caught the ball and took off running with Panthers’ defenders trying to avoid contact.
Norwood sprinted 61 yards to the 14-yard line.
The Broncos appeared as if they would capitalize with a touchdown when running back Anderson picked up necessary yardage on fourth and one at the five. But a holding penalty forced the Broncos to settle for a 33-yard field goal by McManus and a 13-7 lead.
Panthers defensive lineman Kony Ealy intercepted a Manning pass with 4:23 left but the Panthers could not capitalize.
They got one last chance when they got the ball back with 1:55 remaining in the half.
Newton’s 24-yard pass to receiver Devin Funchess moved them down the field on a drive that reached the Broncos’ 45.
But Ware rushed from the right side and sacked Newton as time expired.