Two forced fumbles and 2.5 sacks by Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller led the way in Super Bowl 50, as the Broncos defense shut down the dominant offense of the Carolina Panthers in a 24-10 win. The Denver defense finished with seven sacks, tying the Super Bowl record of the legendary 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers and 1985 Chicago Bears.
Before Sunday, the Panthers blew out the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals with blistering starts out of the gates to bury opponents in big holes early, but couldn't do the same against the top-rated Broncos defense. After receiving the opening kickoff, the Broncos found success early on offense, driving the field to get in the red zone before settling for a 34-yard field goal.
Carolina didn't match that early success, following a three-and-out on the first offensive possession with a disastrous play that gave the Broncos a 10-0 lead. The play involved Von Miller stripping Cam Newton to force a fumble that was recovered by Malik Jackson for a touchdown.
It was one of several first-half mistakes for the Panthers, including another fumble by Mike Tolbert. Newton completed just eight of his 19 pass attempts in the first half for 95 yards, but managed to lead the Carolina offense down the field early in the second quarter thanks mostly to his rushing ability.
Still, with so many opportunities afforded to them by the Panthers' offensive struggles, the Broncos failed to capitalize with points of their own. The touchdown by Jackson was the only one for the Broncos until the final minutes of the game, and while Peyton Manning and C.J. Anderson managed to get the Broncos deep into Panthers territory on multiple occasions, it only yielded field goals for Brandon McManus.
In what may have been the last game of Manning's storied career, he was mostly efficient at leading the Broncos down the field. He completed 13 of 23 passes for 141 yards, but he also put the ball in jeopardy on a few of his passes, including one that he threw directly at Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy to kill a Denver scoring chance.
Early in the second half, Newton looked back in MVP form, connecting on long passes to Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey "Philly" Brown on the first two drives for the Panthers. Neither trip into Broncos territory resulted in points, but the Denver offense was still unable to take advantage and continued to give Carolina chances to cut into the lead.
By the end of the game, the Broncos had earned the Super Bowl record for consecutive failed third-down attempts with 12. But Miller came to the rescue with his second forced fumble of the game, setting up a 2-yard touchdown rush for Anderson that put the game on ice.
The win is the third Super Bowl victory for the Broncos and the second in the career of Manning, who won Super Bowl XLI while with the Indianapolis Colts. The last Lombardi Trophy for the Broncos came from a win in Super Bowl XXXIII, the final game of John Elway's career.