Newton Struggles in 1st Super Bowl
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA (AP) — A dejected Cam Newton sat slouching behind the podium on Sunday night, wearing a black Panthers hoodie and a frown.
The league’s top player this season didn’t feel much like answering questions, doing so mostly in delayed one- and two-word answers. Some questions he just let pass without answering at all — except for one which said it all.
“They made more plays than us and that’s what it comes down to,” Newton said before walking out of a brief three-minute interview following Carolina’s 24-10 Super Bowl loss to Denver. “We had our opportunities and it was nothing special that they did. We dropped balls. We turned the ball over. We gave up sacks. We threw errant passes. That’s it.”
Newton’s dream season ended with a nightmare performance.
The Broncos took Newton out of his game — completely.
“Hey, when things don’t go his way, we see the body language — it’s obvious,” said Broncos safety T.J. Ward said of Newton. “That’s what we wanted to do. That was our intent to come in this game and get the body language going. We didn’t want the happy, fun-spirited ‘dabbing’ Cam. No we want the sulking, upset, talking to my linemen, my running backs, ‘I don’t know what’s going on’ Cam Newton — and that’s what we got.”
Fresh off being earning his first MVP award on Saturday night, the Panthers fifth-year quarterback was stymied by an aggressive Denver Broncos defense in his first Super Bowl appearance on Sunday.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound quarterback who scored 45 touchdowns during the regular season — and five more in the playoffs — failed to produce a TD running or throwing for the first time this season and the Panthers lost in Super Bowl 50. Carolina’s only score came on a 1-yard run by Jonathan Stewart.
Newton didn’t get a chance to give any balls away to kids on the front row of Levi’s Stadium.
“This is one those things that is going to hurt,” Rivera said of Newton. “It’s going to hurt everybody for a while and hopefully after a few days we will get over it.”
Newton has failed to score a TD eight times in his career, but none since Oct. 26, 2014.
Newton didn’t get much help from his offensive line which allowed a Super Bowl record-tying seven sacks, or his wide receivers, who dropped big passes at key times.
Newton spent much of the game under heavy duress as the Panthers were unable to handle the pressure of Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware on the edges. Miller had 2 1/2 sacks, including two strip-sacks against overmatched right tackle Mike Remmers that led to Denver’s two touchdowns.
“I don’t think we played well around him,” tight end Greg Olsen. “It was us not getting open, not catching balls that were tight but we have to come down with, we need to do a better job in the run game. This can’t turn into the what-happened-to-Cam-Newton show.”
Denver’s first touchdown came when Miller blew past Remmers and ripped the ball out of Newton’s grasp. Malik Jackson recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown to put the Panthers in an early 10-0 hole they could never dig out of.
Later, Miller beat Remmers for another strip sack and the Broncos put the game away with a touchdown and two-point conversion.
“I knew he was going to be really quick,” Remmers said. “I knew he was going to be a tremendous athlete and it was going to be a big challenge.”
Newton never looked comfortable in the pocket, side-arming throws, overthrowing wide receivers and generally running for his life.
Eventually frustration began to set it.
With Carolina trailing by six late in the fourth quarter, Miller broke through again and knocked the ball from Newton’s hands. With the ball rolling on the turf, Newton opted not to dive in the pile and the Broncos recovered at the Panthers 4 to set up C.J. Anderson’s clinching TD run.
With less than three minutes remaining, Newton was knocked down in the end zone and screamed at an official looking for a late hit but didn’t get one.
The question surrounding the Panthers all year long was whether their wide receivers would be good enough for Newton after Kelvin Benjamin went down with a season-ending knee injury in training camp.
Carolina still managed to finish No. 1 in the league in scoring this season, putting up 500 points in the regular season and 80 more in the postseason.
But a key drop by Jerricho Cotchery early came two plays before Newton’s first fumble. Ted Ginn Jr. also had a ball go through his hands and into the awaiting arms of T.J. Ward for an interception that denied Carolina a scoring opportunity.
The Broncos neutralized Olsen and the Panthers lost Philly Brown to a concussion in the second half rendering their offense useless.
The Panthers could never establish a running game with Jonathan Stewart held to 29 yards on 12 carries and one touchdown run while battling through a foot injury.
Newton managed one moment of hope, saying “We will be back.”
Dominant D carries Manning, Broncos to 24-10 Super Bowl win
With his prolific passing and complete control of the game at the line of scrimmage, Peyton Manning helped usher in the NFL’s wide-open era of high-scoring offenses and pass-happy game plans.
Manning’s possible farewell game in Super Bowl 50 was a throwback to the 1970s when his father Archie was running away from dominant defenses such as the Steel Curtain and Doomsday.
Von Miller forced fumbles that set up both of Denver’s touchdowns, led a defense that harassed MVP Cam Newton and helped carry Manning to his second Super Bowl title with a 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
“Whenever you’re doing something for your buddies, it means a little bit more,” Miller said. “As human beings, we’re selfish but when you’re doing something for somebody else, that’s when the magic happens.”
For so many years, Manning’s career was defined by his gaudy regular season numbers that weren’t enough come playoff time. A lack of help from teammates or the inability to thrive against stellar defenses from teams such as New England and Seattle left Manning with just one Super Bowl title in his first 13 playoff trips.
So perhaps it was fitting that after carrying teammates for most of his career, he was carried over the finish line in this game by Miller and the coordinator Wade Phillips’ “Orange Rush” defense.
“I certainly knew that (with) this defense, this team would have a chance,” Manning said. “Our defense has just been, from the get-go, they’ve been nothing but awesome. Being hurt and struggling early in the season wasn’t a lot of fun so I was grateful to get back healthy and to try and play my part these last couple of weeks.”
But now after throwing for more yards, more touchdowns and winning more starts than any other quarterback in NFL history, Manning could be ready to hang it up. Manning wouldn’t say after the game whether this was his final one.
“I got some good advice from Tony Dungy,” Manning said of the first of four coaches with whom he’s been to the Super Bowl. “He said, ‘Don’t make an emotional decision.’ This has been an emotional week, an emotional night. I’m going to take some time to reflect.”
Miller set the tone early when he blew past right tackle Mike Remmers and ripped the ball out of Newton’s grasp. Malik Jackson recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown to put Denver up 10-0.
Then in the fourth quarter with the Broncos protecting a 16-10 lead, Miller struck again. Once again, he got around Remmers and knocked the ball out of Newton’s hands. T.J. Ward recovered at the 4 and C.J. Anderson sealed it with a TD run.
“In my opinion, we’re the greatest defense to ever play the game,” linebacker Brandon Marshall said. “Ever. It’s a bold statement but top to bottom, we have the greatest talent — from rushers to safeties to linebackers. Better than anybody’s ever done it.”
After knocking off former Super Bowl champions Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady to make it here and then holding Newton and the NFL’s highest-scoring offense to its lowest point total of the season, the Broncos stated their case to stand next to Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain defenses of the 1970s, the dominant 1985 Chicago Bears, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 2013 Seattle Seahawks on the list of top defenses.
Denver recorded 14 sacks, forced seven turnovers and allowed just four touchdowns in the three playoff wins.
“This is the rawest defense ever. Ever,” Denver tight end Owen Daniels said. “To do that to the guy that’s changing the game, unbelievable. Our defense, you have to put them up there with the best ever.”
The Panthers defense was just about as stingy, but couldn’t come up with the game-changing turnovers that Denver provided. Carolina held Denver to 194 yards — the fewest ever for a Super Bowl winner — and didn’t allow a first down on eight of 14 drives.
But it wasn’t enough.
“It’s so gut-wrenching and hard to swallow that,” All Pro cornerback Josh Norman said. “There were chances and opportunities there and we just didn’t capitalize on them.”
Newton, who threw for 38 touchdowns and ran for 12 in his first 18 games, produced no touchdowns for the first time all season. Denver tied a Super Bowl record with seven sacks and frustrated the player nicknamed Superman.
It didn’t help that Newton’s receivers dropped passes and the running game never got going against Denver’s stout front.
“They made more plays than us and that’s what it comes down to,” Newton said during a brief three-minute interview. “We had our opportunities and it was nothing special that they did. We dropped balls. We turned the ball over. We gave up sacks. We threw errant passes. That’s it.”
Newton, Panthers vow to get back to Super Bowl after loss
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton didn’t say much after the Panthers lost Super Bowl 50 on Sunday night, but the league’s MVP did promise this: “We’ll be back.”
But will they?
Only time will tell. The Panthers could fade into oblivion, like the San Francisco 49ers did after losing the Super Bowl three years ago. Or they could bounce back, just like these Denver Broncos did after a devastating loss in the big game two years ago.
Either way, Carolina’s mettle will be tested when they report to training camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina next summer.
“I told our guys, this is the same (Broncos) team that a couple of years ago got beat,” coach Ron Rivera said. “So we have an opportunity to grow and learn from this experience. So we need to learn from this experience and give ourselves an opportunity to get back here.”
The last time the Panthers lost in the Super Bowl, it took 12 years to get back.
But the pieces in Carolina seem to be in place for success over the long haul.
The Panthers had won 22 of their last 24 games and three straight NFC South championships before Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Broncos.
General manager Dave Gettleman has a solid core that includes six first-team All-Pros — Newton, center Ryan Kalil, fullback Mike Tolbert, linebackers Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly and cornerback Josh Norman.
They have other consistent players like tight end Greg Olsen and running back Jonathan Stewart, and budding young stars such as defensive tackle Kawann Short, guard Trai Turner and defensive end Kony Ealy, who had 3 ½ sacks, a forced fumble and an interception in the Super Bowl.
With the exception of Norman, all are under contract next season.
“At the end of the day, we established something, we built something here,” Ealy said. “We’re not going to change it up, switch it up next year when the season starts over. We’re going to keep the same. … That’s what got us here. And our character got us here. And that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
Rivera, who has won NFL Coach of the Year two of the last three seasons, is back too.
And so is the highly competitive Newton who, not surprisingly, didn’t take the loss well.
The fifth-year quarterback, who sulked in his postgame press conference before walking out, appeared to get down on himself during the game as well. The Broncos took advantage, forcing four Carolina turnovers and registering seven sacks.
“Hey, when things don’t go his way, we see the body language — it’s obvious,” Broncos safety T.J. Ward said. “That’s what we wanted to do. That was our intent to come in this game and get the body language going. We didn’t want the happy, fun-spirited ‘dabbing’ Cam. No, we want the sulking, upset, talking to my linemen, my running backs, ‘I don’t know what’s going on’ Cam Newton — and that’s what we got.”
As Rivera said, things to learn from.
The Panthers (17-2) never expected to lose.
They had been the NFL’s best team all season, starting 14-0, and the highest-scoring offense in the league. Their defense was pretty stout, too, leading the league in takeaways. That’s why the loss hurt so much.
On this night, their offense got completely outplayed.
“It doesn’t feel good,” Stewart said.
“Yeah, it stings,” Kuechly said. “We accomplished a lot of what we wanted to do this year. We won the division, we won in the playoffs and we made it to the Super Bowl. We checked off a couple of boxes.”
But not the last one.
“When you look back on it we will be kicking ourselves forever because we let one get out of the gate,” safety Roman Harper said.
Now the only thing left to do is to look to next season.
“We’ve grown as a team,” Stewart said. “One thing you can really look forward to is us getting bigger, faster and strong for a few years to come.”