The Denver Broncos, led by 39-year-old quarterback Peyton Manning, defeated the New England Patriots 20 – 18 in the AFC Championship to advance to Super Bowl 50. “It’s a great honor to be going back to the Super Bowl,” said Manning. Manning led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 2007. Manning returned with the Colts in 2010 but were defeated by the Saints. Manning and the Denver Broncos lost to the Seattle Seahawks in 2014 so this will be Manning’s 4th trip to the Super Bowl. Manning, who has had a less than spectacular season and missed six games with a heel injury, was able to hang on and get the job done Sunday. A large part of the victory was a result of Gary Kubiak (head coach) and Wade Phillips (defensive coordinator) switching things up to outcoach Bill Belichick, the football wizard himself. Patriots QB Tom Brady was knocked down a record 20 times Sunday. Brady was hit more than any quarterback had been hit in a single game all season. The Patriots had a chance to tie up the game after Brady found TE Rob Gronkowski with seconds remaining. But alas, the two-point conversion attempt was picked off and the Broncos were victorious.
What a year it has been for former Texan’s head coach Gary Kubiak who coached the Denver Broncos to an AFC Championship. Contrary to what looked like a blowout in the NFC Championship, (Panthers/Cardinals) the Broncos had a tough year of hard fought games including this final one against the Patriots. Kubiak had a lot on his plate stepping into this franchise. Team President John Elway who hired Kubiak explained, “He helps us in terms of how to deal with the problems that come along – the media, the controversies and everything. He’s doing an exceptional job, and it’s shown. The first year, he’s [got a team] playing an AFC Championship game.” If any man was right for the job it had to have been Kubiak who most likely learned his media training during his time with the Texans. Not only did he manage to coach the Broncos through a tough season; he got them to the game that matters.
The Carolina Panthers, led by MVP candidate Cam Newton, defeated the Arizona Cardinals 49 – 15. “I don’t get nervous,” Newton explained the Wednesday before the big game. “I’ve been playing football for too long for me to get nervous. I used to dream of being in this type of position.” After Newton’s performance on Sunday it looks like his dreams are coming true. Newton completed 19-28 passes for 335 yards and had one interception. He had two passing touchdowns ― two rushing, running 12 yards for one; and of course, flying over a pile of defenders from the 1 yard line for the other. Newton became the 4th QB with multiple rush and pass touchdowns in a playoff game. This guy is unstoppable and is arguably the best athlete on the field, which is a rare quality in a quarterback. Newton faced quite a bit of criticism over the course of the Panthers 15-1 regular season. Haters have called him arrogant, classless and a host of other untrue things. Newton has been responding appropriately all year by winning and Sunday’s game proved no different. He is clearly at the top of his game, a showman, a team player, and a leader in his own right. For example, Newton sported pregame cleats that had the names of all of his teammates on them and at one point during an on field brawl Newton trotted away from the jabs being thrown to “dab” in the end zone. Why fight when you can dance? Though a dynamite quarterback makes all the difference, the truth is, defense wins the game! Panthers’ defense led the NFL during the regular season with turnovers and Sunday night’s game was no different as they forced 7 turnovers.
Cam Newton spent a year at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas before transferring to Auburn University.
The Denver Broncos are set to face the Carolina Panthers at Super Bowl 50 on February 7th in Santa Clara, California.