Cam Cole: Super Bowl 50 victory cements Peyton Manning's legacy but it was hardly one for the ages

 

 
 
 
 
Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers and Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos speak on the field after Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.
 
 

Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers and Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos speak on the field after Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.

Photograph by: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — When they open the time capsule on the 100th anniversary of the Super Bowl, assuming the National Football League hasn’t been banned by then, the only rave reviews uttered of Super Bowl 50 will come from defensive leatherheads.

They will get all misty-eyed about the brilliance of Denver defensive co-ordinator Wade Phillips’s game plan, the virtuosity of edge rusher Von Miller, and they won’t be wrong on either count.

Perhaps mercifully, they will gloss over the secret truth of the Broncos 24-10 victory over the favoured Carolina Panthers: the quarterbacks were pretty awful. And so was the game.

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Cam Newton, when he wasn’t trying to dodge the Denver pass rush — mostly unsuccessfully — was indecisive and inaccurate and, on the play that finally ended any chance his team had to come back, apparently too timid to dive on his own fumble.

It was a shocking lack of fortitude, actually shying away from trying to recover the football, as if to say: “Not my job.” He didn’t cover himself in glory in the post-game interview room, either, sulking through questions and then walking off with “I’m outta here.”

Peyton Manning, when he wasn’t trying to dodge fresh allegations about human growth hormone, was throwing marshmallows that defied physics any time one of his passes got to a receiver before several Carolina defenders did.

But history will record that the 39-year-old Manning, the rag-armed, hobbling old Sheriff for whom just getting out of the gate for his last rodeo was a triumph, has now won as many Super Bowls as his little brother.

Eli was the MVP of both his wins with the Giants, and Peyton didn’t have much to do with this one, but history is written by the winners, and that’s how he goes out.

No one would turn down an exit line like this, even if he hedged his bets post-game.

“Well, I’m going to take a little time to reflect. I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight, I promise you,” Manning said, ever the commercial pitchman. “I got some good advice last night from (his old Indy Colts coach) Tony Dungy who said don’t make any emotional decisions. So I’ll enjoy tonight and I’ll say a little prayer of thanks to the man upstairs for this great opportunity. I’m so very grateful.”

“It’s just awesome because he was on a team that could help him get a win,” said head coach Gary Kubiak. “He didn’t have to go out there and do it all on his own and he knew that. I told him I watched John Elway win a championship with 120-some yards passing and he got one today with a hundred-and-some yards, too. I’m just so proud of him.”

In fact, Manning completed 13 of 23 for 141 yards with an interception and no touchdowns and a passer rating of 56.6, fumbled twice and lost one.

Newton, the league MVP, was sacked seven times, felt the pressure all day, was held to just 18 completions in 41 attempts for 265 yards but also with one pick and no TDs and a rating of just 55.4. He fumbled twice, and lost them both --- the first, forced by game MVP Von Miller, producing the Broncos’ first-quarter touchdown, and the other, also knocked loose by Miller, was the last nail in the Panthers’ coffin.

It was not a matchup for the ages.

Manning, mind you, was broken four years ago and put back together again after a neck injury that ruined his arm strength, and what he didn’t lose physically, he lost Sunday by virtue of a dog-in-the-manger offensive game plan under Kubiak.

But perhaps it was meant to ask no more of Manning, the oldest Super Bowl winning QB in history, than he was capable of giving. It was his 200th career victory, combining regular and post-season wins.

Four times, before getting multiple cracks at it after Newton’s last fumble, the Broncos’ offence had the ball inside the 25-yard line without scoring a touchdown.

Sunday morning, courtesy of the Washington Post, more details emerged of the HGH allegations made by an Al Jazeera TV report, with confirmation by Manning’s spokesman Ari Fleischer that the substance had indeed been delivered to the Manning home in his wife’s name, but was never used by the quarterback, who has dismissed the allegations as “total garbage.”

If Manning even learned of the Post story before the game, it didn’t appear to inspire him to greater heights. He didn’t need them. The defence, with its great edge rushers Miller and DeMarcus Ware, and safety T.J. Ward, who had an interception and fumble recovery, and a secondary that blanketed Carolina’s mostly unimpressive cast of receivers long enough for the pass rush to get to Newton all day, won the game.

“I was just glad to be on the same side as our defence and not have to play against them,” said Manning.

“As human beings, we’re selfish, but when you’re doing something for sebody else, that’s when the magic happens,” said Miller, who had 2-1/2 sacks, six tackles, two forced fumbles, two hurries and knocked down a pass.

“It wasn’t just for Peyton. DeMarcus Ware has been through just about everything you can imagine and was still the same high-character great idol every single day. It was for Coach Phillips, it was for Peyton, it was for D-Ware and all my teammates.”

The Broncos had 194 net yards of offence and beat one of the most powerful offensive teams in football by 14 points. It didn’t make sense.

Maybe only one thing did: the Panthers came from nowhere this year, or close to it, and under constant pressure by football’s No. 1 defence, they fell apart ingloriously, as if the stage was too big.

The Broncos? They had their lunch handed to them two years ago by the Seattle Seahawks. They played like a veteran team ready to use up every ounce anyone had in the tank. Including the Sheriff.

ccole@postmedia.com

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CLICK HERE to view more photographs from the game, or if using a handheld device, tap the image above and swipe.

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Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers and Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos speak on the field after Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.
 

Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers and Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos speak on the field after Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.

Photograph by: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images

 
Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers and Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos speak on the field after Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.
The Denver Broncos players celebrate after the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. The Broncos won 24-10.
Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after the Denver Broncos defeat the Carolina Panthers with a score of 24 to 10 to win Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.
Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. The Broncos defeated the Panthers 24-10.
Carolina Panthers’ Josh Norman (24) sits on the bench after the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game against the Denver Broncos Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. The Broncos won 24-10.
Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after defeating the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. The Broncos defeated the Panthers 24-10.
Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos shakes hands with Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers after Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. The Carolina Panthers were defeated by the Denver Broncos 24-10.
Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning, right, and Broncosí head coach Gary Kubiak celebrate after their win against the Carolina Panthers in the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. The Broncos won 24-10.
Denver Bronco C. J. Anderson celebrates his touchdown with teammates during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California February 7, 2016.
Denver Broncosí Peyton Manning (18) walks on the field after their win against the Carolina Panthers in the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. The Broncos won 24-10.
Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning (18) is congratulated after the Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers 24-10 during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.
Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after defeating the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. The Broncos defeated the Panthers 24-10.
Denver Broncos' C.J. Anderson (22) scores  a touchdown during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.
Emmanuel Sanders #10 of the Denver Broncos rects after a first down catch against the Carolina Panthers in the second half during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.
Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos attempts a pass against the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.
Carolina Panthers’ Ted Ginn Jr. (19) can’t catch a pass with Denver Broncosí Aqib Talib (21) defending during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.
Carolina Panthers' Charles Johnson (95) recovers a fumble during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.
Denver Broncosí Emmanuel Sanders (10) tries to get past Carolina Panthersí Thomas Davis (58) during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.
Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers fight for the ball during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on February 7, 2016.
Aqib Talib (L) of the Denver Broncos vies for position with Ted Ginn, Jr. (R) of the Carolina Panthers  during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California February 7, 2016.
Graham Gano #9 of the Carolina Panthers kicks a 29 yard field goal against the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.
Denver Broncos’ Derek Wolfe (95) celebrates after sacking Carolina Panthersí Cam Newton (1) during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.
C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after scoring a 2-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.
Bennie Fowler #16 of the Denver Broncos scores a two point conversion in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.
Jonathan Stewart #28 of the Carolina Panthers runs with the ball in the second half against  DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.
T.J. Ward #43 of the Denver Broncos recovers a fumble in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.
Carolina Panthersí Cam Newton (1) walks off the field after throwing an incomplete pass during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game against the Denver Broncos Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.
Darian Stewart #26 and  T.J. Ward #43 of the Denver Broncos react after a recovered fumble in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.
Denver Broncosí Malik Jackson (97) scores a touchdown during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.
Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos gestures at the line of scrimmage in the first half against the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.
Jonathan Stewart of the Carolina Panthers dives for a 1-yard touchdown during the second quarter of Super Bowl 50 between the Panthers and the Denver Broncos in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.
Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers reacts after Jonathan Stewart (not pictured) rushes for a 1-yard touchdown during the second quarter of Super Bowl 50 between the Panthers and the Denver Broncos in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.
Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers throws a pass against the Denver Broncos in the first half of Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.
Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning (18) is sacked by Carolina Panthers’ Luke Kuechly (59) during the first half of Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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