I Was Wrong About the Panthers Killing the Broncos — But Not About Everything

Editor's note: Contributing writer Brian Badzmierowski stoked the ire of our readers with two recent posts — the first headlined "Tom Brady, New England Patriots Will Kick the Broncos' Ass and Here's Why," the second called "10 Reasons the Broncos Will Get Smoked by the Panthers in Super Bowl 50." After Denver humbled Carolina in the big game, we asked Badzmierowski to eat some crow. He does so below — but he can't resist taking a few more shots at Peyton Manning along the way.

Super Bowl 50 is in the books and I’m 0-2 at picking winners in the Westword.

Predicting sports games is never easy; there are too many variables. I didn’t expect the 2011 version of Cam Newton to suit up after he had just won his first NFL MVP award.

He looked lost and was battered and pressured the entire game, a credit to the Denver defense.

The tenacity of Denver’s defense sapped the life right out of the young Panthers, who didn’t have as much big-game experience as the Broncos. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware took over the game and barely needed anyone else on the field to beat Carolina.

I was wrong in my initial assessment of this Broncos defense. I thought Newton would be able to scramble his way out of trouble, but he took almost as bad a beating as Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game.

The defense was otherworldly; I’ve never seen a defense dominate the line of scrimmage as thoroughly as this Broncos defense.

But I wasn’t wrong about noodle-armed Peyton Manning, who turned in a paltry line of 13-23 for 141 yards and an interception for a QB rating of 56.6.

He finally earned his second ring to tie his brother Eli, but it had almost nothing to do with him. Brock Osweiler and John Elway got Manning to the Super Bowl and then let him flounder and flop his way to the finish line.

Osweiler won important games during the regular season, while Manning sat and Elway built a copycat version of the nasty Seattle Seahawks defense that broke his team’s back two years ago.

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Denver can now bask in the Super Bowl afterglow until next season. Elway’s promise in 2012 that he would do whatever it takes to make sure Manning leaves the game on top, like he did in 1999, was fulfilled.

The impassioned Broncos were sick of coming up just short. They played with a Lombardi trophy-sized chip on their shoulder and as one wild Broncos fan on the 15 bus put it, “It’s Christmas in Cowtown!”  

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