The Carolina Panthers were going to win this game, and they were going to win big. The Broncos were just there to give Peyton Manning the possibility to retire from the game in front of a big crowd. In fact, I even heard someone say that they hoped Carolina didn’t embarrass Denver so bad that Peyton’s legacy was forever tarnished.
How’s this for legacy? The Denver Broncos are Super Bowl Champions.
In a game reminiscent of the Broncos Super Bowl win in 1997, a team no one believed in, an underdog, with a so-called aging quarterback who couldn’t win the game by himself, somehow pulled it off. Then, it was thanks to the running game. This time, it was thanks to a defense that we can now say deserves to be considered among the best of all time.
Because Denver didn’t just win this game, they dominated. Not on offense, no, but then again, that was never the plan. That was never the game. The game was always this: Make Cam Newton beat you. And he didn’t.
He put up a good fight, Cam did. He’s a great quarterback, and Carolina is a great team. Their fans should take solace in the fact that they’ll be back here, and if this season is to be believed, they’ll be back soon. But tonight, it wasn’t just about Peyton Manning quite possibly playing his last game in the NFL, it wasn’t about Denver’s dominant defense, it wasn’t about beloved long-time owner Pat Bowlen’s precarious state of health, no. In a way, it was about destiny.
Denver had the feel of the team of Destiny since Week 17, when Manning replaced his replacement, Brock Osweiler, to lead the team to victory. A few years back, they won games easy on their way to the Super Bowl and lost. This year, they struggled at times, relied too much on the defense and won the hard games. And maybe that’s the recipe. At least for this team.
Peyton wouldn’t commit to a goodbye, but it feels like farewell. If it is, then Broncos fans will take it. We got one of the best, if not the best quarterback of all time for a few years. He gave us this. Football fans are always greedy, but if this is the end, then what a ride it was.
Thank you, Peyton. Thank you, Broncos defense. Thank you.
GAME BALL TO …
Von Miller. Or Wade Phillips. Or the entire Broncos defense. In a performance so dominating that Cam Newton still isn’t sure what’s going on, the Broncos humbled the Panthers and brought memories of the best defenses of old. Miller deservedly got the Super Bowl MVP trophy, but he couldn’t have done it without the rest of the guys suiting up, and he certainly couldn’t have done it without his coach.