SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Golden Game came and went and this much is clear: it won’t be bronzed.
Super Bowl 50 was a celebration that lasted an entire season. Then Sunday’s game arrived and why did it seem like it lasted an eternity?
The Denver Broncos won their third Super Bowl, outlasting the Carolina Panthers, 24-10, at Levi’s Stadium.
Peyton Manning hitches his britches and rides off into the Bay Area sunset as a two-time Super Bowl champion.
If it really was The Sheriff’s last rodeo, please know it came with a few rope burns. For the most part, they were absorbed by the Panthers.
This matchup of conference champions will be known for miscues rather than miracle plays. More for blunders instead of bona fide greatness.
Soccer, yep, remains the beautiful game after this dispaly of America’s two best football teams all but pulling chairs out from each other.
The Broncos, the NFL’s top defense, gave the Panthers, and their A-No. 1 offense the jitters. Denver forced these not-so-cool cats into four turnovers and the verdict was a result few saw coming.
It was Manning getting the confetti shower as one of the game’s iconic players could be done.
“I’m just very, very grateful,” said Manning, 39, who declined to say if this was curtain call. “It’s very special to cap it off with a Super Bowl championship.”
He was talking about an wacky season in which he missed a chunk of the season with a foot injury. Then he came off the bench to lead the Broncos over the Chargers in the regular-season finale and never looked back.
He wasn’t the Manning of old, but that one also lost two Super Bowls. Instead he morphed into a game-manager rather than a game-changer, with an arm that was more show than glow.
Manning deserves every pat on the back, after winning five MVPs and now two Super Bowls. A class act until the end, he thanked his teammates first and then lavished praise on family and friends.
A gracious champ was just that until the end.
“We had a great bunch of teammates and it was a great bunch of guys to play with,” Manning said.
But it was a rare performance by the Broncos’ defense which was the real story. One game after hitting the Patriots’ Tom Brady 20 times in the AFC title game win, it ricocheted off Cam Newton at on at least 10 occasions.
Von Miller, the SB 50 MVP, had 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, both which led to touchdown. He paced a relentless assault on the Panthers’ backfield which produced seven sacks.
In a region known for its shaky ground, Newton was on uneven footing for the majority of the game’s 60 minutes.
“They made a lot of things happen and we give them a lot of credit for that,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said.
Manning dished the atta-boys to others wearing the Broncos colors.
“This game is much like this season has been,” Manning said. “We really were tested.”
Manning will embrace this victory for years to come and in a retirement which could be around the corner. But first he’ll raise a glass, as the game raises a toast to one of its all- time greats.
“I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight,” Manning said.
But make sure to save a pint or two for the defense. Because while Manning will be crushing a Bud, it really was Miller Time.
+ Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @jparis_sports.