A game that could be defined by stellar play on the defensive side of the ball and two offenses that couldn’t get out of their own way, the Denver Broncos defeated the favored Carolina Panthers 24-10 in a poorly played Super Bowl 50.
Looking at how each team struggled on offense, here are the five biggest boneheaded plays from Sunday’s big game.
Cam Newton will find himself on this list twice. After all, his overall performance might have been among the worst for a quarterback in the recent history of the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, Broncos corner Aqib Talib is lucky two pretty bad plays didn’t cost his team the Lombardi. He also finds himself on this list twice.
1. Cam Newton holds on to the ball too long, loses fumble
In what might have been the biggest play from Super Bowl 50, Newton failed to recognize pressure coming from the outside about midway through the first quarter.
Broncos linebacker Von Miller stripped Newton of the ball, which led to a Malik Jackson return for a touchdown. (Watch here).
While right tackle Mike Remmers struggled maintaining the edge against Miller, Newton simply needed to get rid of the ball and feel the pressure. Instead, he continued to look down the field for the big play.
Not only did this give Denver a two-score lead early in the game, it set the tone for the remainder of the game. Denver’s defense was pumped up on the following possession, forcing the Panthers to punt after just four plays. From that point on, it was over.
2. Aqib Talib taunting penalty
This Broncos corner is known for making some pretty boneheaded plays. And while his actions in the first quarter of the Super Bowl can be left up to the opinion of observers, he shouldn’t have put himself in position to cost his team.
After stopping the Panthers on third down, Talib was found jawing with Panthers wider receiver Corey Brown. At this point, Talib took his helmet off near the sideline and continued in Brown’s face.
The officials could have gone without calling a penalty here, but the simple fact that Talib put them in position to call a penalty is a bad look for the enigmatic corner.
— Sportsnaut (@Sportsnaut) February 8, 2016
Then, at the start of the second quarter, Talib was called for a personal foul and throwing Brown down by his face mask near the goal line. On the very next play, Carolina scored to pull the game to within 10-7.
3. Peyton Manning second quarter interception
Either Manning didn’t see Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy dropping back into coverage or he decided to try to fit the ball into a tight window. (Watch here).
No matter Manning’s thought process, it was an absolutely horrible decision that led to yet another postseason interception for the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
With Denver driving inside Carolina’s 30 after a Mike Tolbert fumble, Manning’s interception came at a horrible time. The team was up 13-7 and could have made it a two-score game. Instead, it headed into the half up just 13-7.
4. Tre Boston unsportsmanlike penalty
You will not be celebrating your first down on Tre Boston, who was flagged pic.twitter.com/ntZZ9oVOMu
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) February 8, 2016
This play didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. However, it was just another representation of how bad the Panthers performed in Super Bowl 50.
Showing just how undisciplined the team was, safety Tre Boston decided that it made sense to swipe the ball from the hands of Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the third quarter. This came after Sanders had picked up a first down.
Boston was called for a 15-yard penalty to bring the ball inside Carolina’s 40. Fortunately for the Panthers, this undisciplined show of frustration didn’t have a real impact on the game.
5. Cam Newton loses fumble, doesn’t attempt to recover
— Sportsnaut (@Sportsnaut) February 8, 2016
With his team trailing by six points late in the fourth quarter, Newton was stripped by Broncos linebacker Von Miller. Instead of attempting to jump into the pile to recover the fumble, the league MVP shied away from contact.
A few plays later, Denver scored on a two-yard touchdown from C.J. Anderson to put the game away.
If there ever was a time for a quarterback to sacrifice himself for the betterment of the team, this was it.
Based on all the crap Newton received leading up to the Super Bowl, this play will only act as fodder for the naysayers. Simply put, it was inexcusable.