The Carolina Panthers Defense Held the Broncos to Their Lowest Offensive Total Since 2003—And Still Lost

Carolina's defense against the Broncos was excellent. But Denver's D against the Panthers was even better.

Josh Norman Pointing

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The NFL season has finally come to an end, and the Denver Broncos reign supreme as football champions of the world. Super Bowl 50 was a wild game featuring two dominant defenses, so let's take a step back and see who stood out.

1. The Carolina Defense Did Their Job

The Denver defense did a tremendous job, but we also have to give a ton of credit to Carolina's defense. They allowed a measly 194 yards of total offense, the fewest for a Denver team since October 26, 2003! The Panthers D did their job, period. And a big part of that job was limiting C. J. Anderson.

Anderson finished with 23 carries for 90 yards, a decent stat line. However, when you subtract his longest run (a 34-yard scamper in the second quarter), you get a better idea of how stifling Carolina's defense really was. Outside of that long run, Anderson's stats drop to 22 carries for 56 yards, an average of just 2.54 yards per carry. For most of the game, Carolina prevented Anderson from getting a head of steam and breaking tackles, which was key to their run-stopping success.

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2. Panthers Under Pressure

In the games leading up to Super Bowl 50, Cam Newton could have installed a recliner inside the pocket. His offensive line did a great job of protecting him throughout the season, allowing Carolina to mount a passing attack heavy with long-developing deep routes. In Carolina's two playoff games prior to the Super Bowl, Newton was hit only three times. So they elected to stick with the offensive game plan that had served the so well all season—give Cam time and take shots downfield. Except Denver's front seven had different plans. 

Denver's defense treated the Panthers offensive line like turnstiles, quickly applying pressure in the backfield in play-after-play. Newton averaged a snap-to-throw time of 3.08 seconds, more than a full second longer than Peyton Manning's 2.01. That gave the Denver D more than enough time to penetrate the pocket and nail Newton, effectively deflating the Panthers' aerial attack.

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3. Miller and Ware Lived Inside the Pocket

Remember Cam Newton's average snap-to-throw time of 3.08 seconds? It turns out that was way too long against Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. Miller took an average of 3 seconds to reach Newton on his sacks, and Ware took just 2.7.

The terrorizing tandem of Miller and Ware combined for 4.5 sacks, 6 QB hits and 2 forced fumbles in the big game. When your defense has two edge rushers that can reach the QB that frighteningly fast, you're going to be very tough to score on.

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