NFL AM: What We Learned From Super Bowl 50


The Denver Broncos captured their third Lombardi Trophy as they beat the Carolina Panthers, 24-10.  Here is what we learned from the game.

The Broncos defense is one of the all-time greats.

We knew that Denver had a great defense, but after Sunday’s performance they should now be talked about with the all-time greats.  Not only did the Broncos completely shut down the Carolina offense led by NFL MVP Cam Newton, they received virtually no help from their own offense.  Denver became the first team to win the Super Bowl with less than 200 yards of offense.

These Broncos have two potential Hall of Fame pass rushers, three elite level cornerbacks and no weak links anywhere on defense.

This defense faced Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Cam Newton in the postseason and allowed them just one passing touchdown.  That’s truly remarkable.

The Panthers were their own worst enemies. 

Denver certainly won the game more than Carolina lost it, but it could have been a lot more competitive if the Panthers didn’t look tight and made less mistakes.

Carolina committed four turnovers, at least two of which shouldn’t have occurred, and they allowed the longest punt return in Super Bowl history simply because they didn’t tackle Jordan Norwood.  The Panthers committed 12 penalties for 102 yards.

Cam Newton fumbled twice and on the second fumble in the fourth quarter didn’t appear to make a great effort to pounce on the football.

Brock Osweiler could have won this Super Bowl. 

What will be lost in the Broncos coronation will be the poor play from the quarterback position.  Peyton Manning is one of the all-time greats and should go down as such, but he engineered the team to just one for 14 on third downs and was 13 of 23 for 141 yards with an interception and five sacks.

Brock Osweiler could have easily done enough to win that game, as would most starting NFL quarterbacks playing behind that tremendous defense.

The Panthers receivers finally let them down.  

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton wasn’t great and he was playing the very best defense he will likely ever face. With that said, he received virtually no help from his supporting cast.

Jerricho Cotchery had a pair of drops, as did Philly Brown and Ted Ginn.  In big games, guys need to step up and make a play for their quarterback and they couldn’t.

The Broncos secondary absolutely dominated the Panthers receivers in a game in which just a little bit of offense would have changed things significantly.

The Panthers have a better shot to get back. 

Today should be a celebration of the Broncos great achievement and their legendary defense.  With that said, a return trip to the Super Bowl is more likely for Carolina than Denver.

The Panthers don’t figure to lose any key pieces to their team and will actually get better in a few spots when Kelvin Benjamin returns as well as another year of experience for Shaq Thompson and Star Lotuleilei.

The Broncos will obviously be without Peyton Manning, and they’ll have some decisions to make on the defensive line with Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe.  They will likely move on from Aqib Talib and it’s going to be difficult for this defense to play at this level next season as DeMarcus Ware gets another year older.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.