Peyton Manning has capped off his career, leading the Denver Broncos to a 24-10 win over Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara.
Speculation was rampant that Super Bowl 50 would be the final game for the Denver quarterback, as he faced off against NFL MVP Newton and the number one-ranked Carolina attack.
Denver’s offence failed to fire, but Manning and his men held off a second-half fightback from the Panthers to seal the Broncos’ third Super Bowl win in the team’s history.
Manning went into the decider having won only one of his three previous Super Bowl appearances, leading his previous team the Indianapolis Colts to a 29-17 victory over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI in 2007.
The 39-year-old also passed newly-inducted NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, with Manning sealing a record 200 career NFL wins, including the postseason.
He completed 13 of 23 passes for 141 yards and one interception, but Denver’s defence made the difference, sacking Newton a record-equalling seven times and forcing a number of fumbles from the Carolina quarterback.
They kept Newton to 18 / 41 for 265 yards and one interception, as the Panthers’ attacking dynamo was largely held in check after a four-touchdown performance in the NFC Championship game against Arizona earned Carolina a spot in the season finale.
It was Carolina’s second loss in as many Super Bowl appearances, after the Panthers went down 32-29 to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004.
The Broncos began strongly, pressuring Newton and stacking the defence to stop him making his trademark damaging runs.
Brandon McManus opened the scoring with a field goal to make it 3-0 to the Broncos with 4:17 remaining in the first quarter.
The first big play of the game came late in the first term, when linebacker Von Miller sacked Newton and forced the ball free – it bobbled around and was picked up by Denver’s Malik Jackson, who returned it three yards for the first touchdown of the game.
Denver led 10-0 after one quarter, but Newton began to get into his rhythm early in the second term, driving Carolina deep into Denver territory.
He would have had a touchdown pass to Corey Brown, but Denver defender Aqib Talib grabbed Brown’s facemask in desperation to sling him out of bounds short of the end zone.
The foul set Carolina up near the goal-line, and running back Jonathan Stewart leapt high over a pile of defenders to score from one yard out with 11:28 left in the half. The Panthers converted to make it 10-7 Denver.
The Broncos and the Panthers then both went three and out, before Jordan Norwood ripped off a Super Bowl-record 61-yard punt return to set up another McManus field goal, leaving the score at 13-7 to Denver.
Newton and Carolina began to drive downfield again, but they were stalled when full-back Mike Tolbert fumbled the ball for a Broncos recovery.
Manning could not take advantage, as he threw an interception to Carolina lineman Kony Ealy.
Neither side could get in position to score again, and the half ended with Denver still leading 13-7.
Coldplay, Beyonce, Bruno Mars star in half-time show
As always, the halftime show was as highly anticipated as the game itself.
For Super Bowl 50, Coldplay opened the entertainment, with singer Chris Martin leading off some of the British group’s hits including Viva La Vida.
They handed over to leather-clad American star Bruno Mars, who played a short set before a group of drummers parted on the field to reveal Beyonce.
She and her dancers raised the energy levels, performing her new single Formation before Coldplay led all the performers with their hit Fix You to close the show.
Denver extends the lead
Carolina came out with purpose for the second half, as Newton and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr combined twice on big plays to move the Panthers into position.
However the drive stalled, before kicker Graham Gano’s 44-yard field goal hit the right upright and bounced away to leave Denver to take over.
Manning found his wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders twice for gains in excess of 20 yards, and a penalty to the Broncos had them knocking on the door at the Panthers’ 12.
But the defence held, before McManus slotted his third field goal to give Denver a 16-7 lead – the Panthers now needed two scores to win.
Newton was still being pressured and hit by the Denver defence, but he came up big again when a long pass was hauled in by Corey Brown for a gain of 42 yards to put Carolina in scoring range.
However the Panthers quarterback then pushed too hard, with Denver defensive back T.J. Ward intercepting a pass.
The Panthers tackled him, forcing the ball free, but Denver recovered the fumble to take over deep in Broncos territory.
Broncos hang on in final quarter
Denver still led 16-7 with a quarter to go, but Ealy made another big play for the Panthers early in the fourth period, forcing a fumble from Manning as Carolina recovered at midfield.
With Brown ruled out of the game with concussion, Newton was down one wide receiver, but he led the Panthers to the Broncos’ 22-yard line before another Carolina penalty stalled the momentum.
Gano kicked a field goal to make it a one-score game with 10 minutes left.
A series of possessions without scores ensued before Carolina got the ball with five minutes remaining.
Denver put more pressure on Newton and Miller forced another fumble, with T.J Ward recovering.
C.J. Anderson sealed the win, barrelling into the end zone for a two-yard touchdown run. The Broncos secured the two-point conversion to make it 24-10, setting off celebrations from Broncos fans and players alike.