That was when my decision was made that the Denver Broncos had a defense we all needed to pay attention to.
That was the week they made the best quarterback in the NFL (in my opinion) Aaron Rodgers, look like a guy who had no idea what he was doing at the position. That was the week Rodgers threw for the lowest yardage total of his career (77) and couldn’t figure anything out against this Broncos unit. It was, by all accounts, one of the best defensive performances we’ve seen.
Then the Super Bowl happened.
Panthers fans will find a way to explain away a lot of what happened in Super Bowl 50. Most of it will revolve around the officiating (which was poor; par for the course in the NFL, though). But one thing those fans of Carolina need to come to grips with is this:
Von Miller, Demarcus Ware and the rest of that Broncos defense were the real reason Carolina flew back to Charlotte without the Lombardi Trophy.
Cam Newton, during his post-game press conference (which I’ll get to in a moment), made it clear the Panthers had their chances. Receivers dropped passes, the run defense wasn’t as solid as it has been, and Cam himself sailed his fair share of passes over open receivers heads. So if you’re looking for reasons (i.e. excuses) for why this game didn’t go the Panthers’ way, start there, then come talk about it.
Other thoughts from Sunday’s game:
No one was more masterful (before, during, and after the game) than Von Miller.
He said all the right things, played brilliantly, and has now set himself up to become one of the highest paid defensive players of all-time. One thing to remember, too, is that a torn ACL wasn’t the only reason Miller had to sit out the Super Bowl against the Seahawks. His message to players struggling, for whatever reason, personally to stay on the football field would do well to listen to the message he gave to ESPN’s Trey Wingo after the game.
I might be in the minority here, but I didn’t see anything wrong with Cam Newton’s post-game press conference.
Would it have been nice for him to sit up at that podium and face the media with answers for them to fill their notepad? Sure. Would it have gone a long way in changing public perception of a guy who has endured constant criticism since his days at Auburn? Perhaps. But one thing I’m not going to do is join the “pile-on” society when he didn’t do anything wrong.
Here’s a guy who just lost the biggest game at any level in organized football and we’re “expecting” him to what? Regurgitate the same athlete-speak we’re used to hearing after a loss? Would it have been better for him to stand up straight and say the exact same things he said in his abbreviated press-conference? I’m not with you on that one, Cam Newton critics. Sorry. Those answers were what you were going to get regardless of posture/demeanor. Cut the guy some slack, especially some of you other media types. And spare me the “role model” spiel because the picture below was taken outside of my Southern California office this morning. I think he’s okay in the eyes of those that matter, right now:
Without getting too deep into personnel decisions, I believe the Panthers will be alright. They will definitely need to address some of their problems at wide receiver (getting Benjamin back will help). This wasn’t a fluke run the Panthers went on in 2015. They’re a good football team, but shoring up positions and remaining smart with salary decisions will be key.
What more can be said of Manning that hasn’t already? My two cents? For whatever it’s worth I hope this is it because it would be one heck of a way to go out.
Thoughts? Let me know about’em! Follow me on Twitter @DACubbage