By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
SANTA CLARA – Now you know why we say defenses win championships. Because that’s what they do. They won one Sunday. The won one with a last-minute stop last year. And they won one in Super Bowl XLVIII. OK, I get that. So why don't NFL owners and GMs? There were seven head-coach openings this offseason, and all were filled by offensive assistants. Wake up and smell the coffee, fellas.
2. How good was Denver’s defense? This good: The Broncos won a Super Bowl with an offense that didn’t score a touchdown until the closing minutes and was 1-for-14 on third downs. No wonder tight end Owen Daniels said, “This is the rawest defense ever."
3. Oh, and another thing: No. 1-ranked defenses are 12-2 in Super Bowls since 1970. Daniels said “you have to put (the Denver defense) up there with the best ever,” and he’s right. But I’d say it gets in line behind units like the ’69 Chiefs, ’76 Steelers, ’85 Bears and 2000 Ravens.
4. Someone want to explain why Wade Phillips was out of football last season.
5. Peyton Manning says he “will take some time to reflect” before making a decision on his future, but who’s kidding whom? That’s all, folks. You go out on top. John Elway did it after Super Bowl XXXIII, and Manning will, too. Brock Osweiler, start warming up. This team is yours.
6. Manning also said he was told by Hall-of-Fame inductee Tony Dungy not to make “an emotional decision,” and that's good advice. But this one's easy. There's only one decision. Adios, Peyton. It was a great career.
7. Credit Elway for doing for Manning what the Broncos did for him. They protected him with a running game when he was 37, and he won two Super Bowls with Terrell Davis. Elway protected Manning, 39, with a defense and got him his first Super Bowl since 2006.
8. I’d give a nod to Seattle's Pete Carroll, too. Two years ago Denver had the league’s highest-scoring offense in Super Bowl XLVIII, and you saw what happened. Seattle lowered the "Legion of Boom" on Manning, and Elway took notes. In two years, he went from the league’s No. 1-ranked offense to the No. 1-ranked defense, and the results speak for themselves.
9. Thanks to this postseason no one can call Manning the Harold Stassen of Super Bowl quarterbacks or quote a losing playoff record. He’s 14-13 and 2-2 in Super Bowls.
10. Dear Cam, I feel your pain. Sincerely, Tom Brady.
11. Nice job by Elway when he took hold of the Lombardi Trophy and raised it skyward. “This one’s for Pat!” he yelled, recalling owner Pat Bowlen’s “This one’s for John” comment after Denver won Super Bowl XXXII.
12. Someone tell CBS it’s safe to let rules expert – and I use that term loosely -- Mike Carey out of the bathroom. I swear, I thought someone would put out an APB on the guy when he disappeared after the first quarter.
13. Just a hunch, but Von Miller’s price tag just went up. Miller, who becomes a free agent (the Broncos are expected to put the franchise tag on him), wants to be the highest-paid defensive player in the league.
14. Denver should save a Super Bowl share for Fitzgerald Toussaint. If it weren’t for his fumble in the AFC divisional playoff game, the Broncos wouldn’t be here.
15. Maybe the Shulas should just skip Bay Area Super Bowls. Dan Marino got clobbered by the 49ers’ defense in Super Bowl XIX, and Cam Newton was hammered 31 years later. So what? So Don Shula coached Marino, and son Mike was Newton’s offensive coordinator.
16. Lucky for Aqib Talib this wasn't Super Bowl 51. Under Roger Goodell's proposed rules change, he would've been ejected in the first half for two personal fouls.
17. I must've missed that Carolina team photo the guys shoot on the sidelines in the fourth quarter. Didn't catch those 70,000 people Michael Irvin told me would be dabbing, either.
18. A Rembrandt this wasn't. The two teams were a combined 0-for-12 on third downs in the second half. Honest.
19. So Terrell Owens feels more “disrespected” than “disappointed” with his Hall-of-Fame snub?” Well, congratulations, T.O. Now you know how teammates and coaches felt about you.
20. Looks like the good guys keep winning Super Bowls. Teams wearing white jerseys won 11 of the last 12.
WHAT WE LIKED
(Peyton Manning photo courtesy of the Denver Broncos)
Peyton Manning going out as a winner. The guy won with class. Best of all, he won his last game on the biggest stage. So the Broncos didn’t score an offensive touchdown until the closing minutes. Big deal. Manning not only becomes the first quarterback in league history to win Super Bowls for two different teams; he becomes the oldest starting quarterback (39) to win a Super Bowl.
Kevin Greene making the Hall-of-Fame’s Class of 2016. The guy waited 12 years and didn’t make a peep … despite having more sacks (160) than all but two others, Bruce Smith and Reggie White.
The parade of Super Bowl MVPs prior to the game.
Everything about Denver’s defense. Sacks. Takeaways. Pressure. You name it. The Broncos did it. "We just played our game," said Von Miller.
WHAT WE DIDN’T
(Cam Newton photo courtesy of the Carolina Panthers)
No Bart Starr among Super Bowl MVPs before the game. We had to watch him on video. Nothing like the real thing.
No Tom Brady at the winner’s news conference. I really wanted to see another meeting there between him and Roger Goodell.
Everyone on third down. The Broncos and Panthers were a combined 4-for-29, including 1-for-14 by the winning team.
Rules expert Mike Carey. CBS just announced that it will replace him in 2016 with Steve Harvey.
Cam Newton’s lame effort on that last fumble. I guess Superman only flies.
Carolina’s poise. There wasn’t any. This game was so full of mistakes I thought we were watching a replay of Super Bowl V. If Denver wasn’t going to beat Carolina, the Panthers made sure they'd beat themselves. Interceptions. Fumbles. Dropped passes. And 12 penalties for 102 yards. Pee-you.
SUNDAY’S HALL OF FAME
Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. His defenses held Tom Brady, Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger to a total … total … of four touchdowns and six field goals in the playoffs. They also produced 14 sacks, including seven Sunday. "He changed everything up to where we could be more aggressive and get to the passer," said linebacker DeMarcus Ware, "but also to create a lot of havoc."
Denver linebacker Von Miller. He should’ve been the game’s MVP, the 10th defensive player to win one. He was absolutely unblockable. Two-and-a-half sacks, two quarterback hits, two forced fumbles (including one that resulted in a touchdown) and one pass deflection. I want the over/under on “Miller Time” headlines Monday.
Carolina defensive end Kony Ealy. Don’t blame him for what happened. He had three sacks, tying Reggie White for the most in one Super Bowl, one interception and one forced fumble. If Carolina had won, he would’ve been the game’s MVP. Incidentally, Ealy was the first player in Super Bowl history to have multiple sacks and an interception in the game.
SUNDAY’S HALL OF SHAME
Carolina’s offensive line. It’s not only that it surrendered seven sacks. It’s that it could’ve surrendered another five were it not for Newton’s escapability. Right tackle Mike Remmers was so overmatched I thought I was looking at Marcus Cannon.
Carolina QB Cam Newton. He was sacked six times. He lost two fumbles. He had a 55.4 passer rating. And he bailed out of a fourth-quarter fumble recovery. In short, he stunk. He also had nothing to say afterward, reducing his comments to a handful of words. A smart man once told me that adversity reveals character, and what it revealed in the NFL MVP was a guy who lost his smile, lost his cape and had no time for the audience he usually courts -- walking out on reporters after three minutes of shrugs and terse answers. "I don't know what you want me to say," he said before exiting. "They scored more points than we did." That was the long answer. Asked what coach Ron Rivera said at halftime: "He told us a lot of things." On what Denver did: "Nothing different." And on how he would put the disappointment he must be feeling into words: "We lost." Basically, he was as good after the game as he was during it.
Carolina’s receivers. Maybe Stanford should recruit some of these guys for its volleyball team. They played with backboards for hands, with numerous drops -- including three by Jericho Cotchery.
0 – Chances of Manning returning
6 -- Turnovers
7 – Denver sacks
15 – Punts
55.4 – Cam Newton rating
56.6 – Peyton Manning rating
194 – Denver offensive yards
200 -- Career wins for Manning