Broncos defense had held three high-scoring offense ineffective during playoffs
February 7, 2016
Von Miller sacked Cam Newton and ripped the ball free to set up a defensive touchdown for the Broncos. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Super Crush 50!
The Broncos became the supreme defensive team in NFL postseason history by orange-squeezing three of the league's paramount offensive units — the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New England Patriots and, ultimately, the Carolina Panthers — and constraining Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Cam Newton to only three touchdowns, with just one passing.
The trio of offenses that scored a combined 86.8 points per game in the regular season averaged just 11.3 points against the Broncos' Tour de Force.
Super Bowl 50 was the magnum opus for the Broncos, who prevailed over the Panthers 24-10 on Sunday at Levi's Stadium and won their third world championship and first in this millennium.
From Orange Crush in 1977 to, as Super Bowl MVP Von Miller said afterward, "we just wanted to be the Orange Rush."
Miller, who had two strip sacks and an extraordinary performance vs. the Panthers after an astonishing game against the Patriots, led the way as the dynamic, dynamo defense dominated again.
"I'm so proud of my buddies," Miller said. "It feels great. Peyton (Manning) and DeMarcus (Ware) and coach (Wade) Phillips have been deserving their whole careers. I did this for them. I put my neck on the line for those guys."
With Peyton Manning holding on for dear life in his final game (although he would not announce his retirement publicly yet), the offense managed a meager 194 total yards (and one touchdown), but the defense, as it has done all season in 15 victories, took command by scoring its own touchdown, setting up the final touchdown, causing four turnovers (three fumbles and an interception), sacking Newton six times (and Ted Ginn Jr. on a thwarted trick play) and incessantly harassing the Panthers' quarterback, who felt like he was trapped in a waffle maker, just as it did Brady two weeks before.
The Broncos produced one of the 10 best defensive performances in Super Bowls, and analytical experts proclaim this modern-day, updated Orange Crush as one of the top five ever. Their run through the postseason has to be No. 1, according to this guy, who has seen the Seahawks and the Ravens and 41 others.
It is interesting to note that the second overall selection in the 2011 draft, Miller, ran rampant against the No. 1 pick that year, Newton.
Manning has won two of four Super Bowls. His boss, John Elway, won two of five and finished with back-to-back victories. Now, Elway has become one of the pre-eminent NFL general managers with two Super Bowls in five years. He picked Miller; he assembled the game's most proficient offense in 2013 and football's premier defense in the 2015 season. Most valuable player to most valuable executive.
Miller finished with 2½ sacks, two forced fumbles, six tackles and a pass defense way down field.
The league's two superlative defensive teams gave the world a defensive game. The Panthers were able to convert third downs into first downs only 3-of-15 occasions (20 percent), and the Broncos were just 1-of-14 (7 percent). The Panthers had 18 first downs by pass and rush, the Broncos nine. There were barely 500 yards total offensive yards by both. Newton was the Panthers' only rusher to surpass 30 yards.
C.J. Anderson toughed out 90 yards — one for 34 — on 23 carries, punctuated by the one 2-yard touchdown with 3:08 remaining that finally determined that the Broncos would win.
Until then, the outcome certainly was indefinite.
The two offenses were juggernauts.
Denver did little; Carolina did less. At halftime the Broncos were up 13-7 on two field goals and a fumble recovery in the end zone by Malik Jackson, the other Broncos fellow from the University of Tennessee. The Panthers had their only touchdown drive 4:35 into the second quarter.
They had squadoosh from then until a field goal with 10:21 was left in the fourth quarter, but still were only six points away (16-10).
The Broncos seemed to be playing "four corners" offense for four quarters, and the Panthers obviously were afraid of the Broncos' body-hugging, unyielding defense. Cam couldn't throw or run or hide from the Miller-Ware attack and the blitzing, swarming, crushing defense.
The Panthers' suffered six presnap penalties, as if they didn't want to start any play.
Anderson praised his teammates on the other side of the ball.
"Man, we've got the greatest defense on the planet," he said.
Linebacker Brandon Marshall was more effusive.
"In my opinion, we're the greatest defense to ever play the game. Greatest," he said. "It's a bold statement, but from top to bottom, we have the greatest talent — from (pass) rushers to safeties to linebackers. Better than anybody who's ever done it.
"All we really need is 17 points."
The Broncos got 24.
The Panthers had only 10.
The Broncos have been crushed in Super Bowls by Dallas, the New York Giants, Washington, San Francisco and, two years, ago Seattle.
But the Broncos were the Orange crushers on Super Sunday.