Broncos Advance To Super Bowl 50: Observations


The Denver Broncos advanced to Super Bowl 50 by defeating the New England Patriots, 20-18 in an absolute thriller, and Peyton Manning’s playing career is extended by at least two more weeks.

Here are our observations:


  • Manning didn’t lose the game, and that’s all that Denver required out of the quarterback position.  17 for 32, for 176 yards with two touchdowns and most importantly no interceptions.  Peyton just game managed his way to Santa Clara.
  • Von Miller was the best football player on the field and it wasn’t even close.  Miller was unblockable and he and DeMarcus Ware completely wrecked the Patriots game plan.  The former second-overall pick from Texas A & M had five tackles, 2.5 sacks and a pair of tackles for loss.
  • Emmanuel Sanders made some huge catches on poorly thrown balls from Peyton Manning.  Sanders has struggled with drops this season, but he played a huge game when they needed him to.
  • Derek Wolfe was nearly as disruptive as Miller, as he had six tackles and a sack from the defensive tackle position.  The interior pressure was huge for Denver, as Tom Brady was unable to step up in the pocket and step into his throws.
  • Although the Broncos thoroughly outplayed the Pats, the two-point margin is a testament to how playing the running game and strong defense gives you a very slim margin for error.
  • The Denver secondary played a fine game and Shiloh Keo, who replaced Darian Stewart, did not make any egregious mistakes. Cornerback Aqib Talib played a great game and got the game-winning pass deflection on the Patriots potential tying two-point conversion attempt.  Denver has three cornerbacks who play at a high level in Talib, Chris Harris and Bradley Roby, and they matched up very well with the New England targets.
  • Cody Latimer was an unsung hero as he was very good on special teams and made a big first-down reception.
  • Speaking of special teams, Brandon McManus made both of his field goal attempts and Britton Colquitt did a great job punting.

New England

  • Tom Brady was affected by the relentless Broncos pass rush and he even began to see some “ghosts” in the pocket.  He completed less than 50 percent of his throws (27 of 56), for 310 yards and had just one touchdown and a pair of interceptions.
  • New England has no deep passing game and against a team with a very good secondary like Denver, the series of underneath routes and pick plays are fairly easy to defend.
  • You were getting the feeling that it wasn’t going to be New England’s day when kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed his first extra point since the 2006 season.  At the end of the day, that missed XPT forced the team to go for two at he end of the game (which obviously failed).
  • Rob Gronkowski is he best tight end ever, and he was the sole reason why his game didn’t get out of hand.  Gronk led New England with eight catches for 144 yards and a touchdown.
  • The New England offensive line couldn’t protect Brady, and Josh McDaniels left them on an island far too often.  The Patriots never tried to max protect, and part of that is probably the lack of confidence they have in the receiving corps.
  • The Broncos defense showed how truly limited the Patriots offense was.  Just because you’re the best team in September, October and November doesn’t mean you’re going to be good enough in January.

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.