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The Denver Broncos upset the top-seeded Carolina Panthers to win Super Bowl 50, giving quarterback Peyton Manning the chance to call a fairytale ending to his storied career. The 24-10 win over the Panthers marked the third Super Bowl triumph for Denver and second for 39-year-old Manning, who was playing in what many expect to be his final game.
"We were facing our toughest challenge tonight, the Panthers defense without a doubt. They were every bit as good as we thought they were but I thought we did our part," Manning told reporters after the game.
"Up until that final second goes off, like I said, you are kind of into the game and into the moment but I was certainly very excited and it's a special moment to be there with your team mates and see coach Kubiak get the Gatorade poured on him and, you know, I've had the chance to visit with coaches and players and that is a unique moment because after that it gets chaotic and everyone is kind of going separate places and getting pulled on but that moment on the sidelines is always something that you'll remember," he added.
Peyton Manning, a five-time NFL most valuable player, added yet another line in the record books as he became the NFL's oldest quarterback to play in a Super Bowl and first to reach 200 career wins. Manning, who has kept fans guessing about his playing future, refused to reveal his hand after the game as a shower of golden confetti fell on a capacity crowd of 71,000 at Levi's Stadium.
"Like I said, everybody has analysis of that. I'm going to follow the coaches advice and I think I'll make a good decision and I think I'll be at peace with it which ever way it goes. Like I said, I'm looking forward to tonight and being with my family and my friends and some team mates and celebrating this special victory and this special win," said Manning.
It was the top ranked Denver defense, however, that can claim credit for the victory against the Panthers after holding the league's highest-scoring offense to a single touchdown and 10 points. The Denver defense was led by a rampaging Von Miller who forced Panthers quarterback Cam Newton into two fumbles that led to touchdowns and ultimately earned the outside linebacker Super Bowl Most Valuable Player honors.
"We came into the game wanting to play our defense, they had a great offence, great misdirection, they could get the ball deep, they had a couple of big players on us tonight but we knew that if we would have been consistent and played that style of defense then we'd be able to come out on top and that's what happened," said Miller at a postgame news conference.
Miller explained how important it was to be around Manning and his vast experience. "Cam [Newton]? He's my second favourite quarterback. Number 18 is my number one quarterback. I love everything about him. You know from the way he handles the media, the way he handles his team mates and his brothers, it's definitely something I'll take with me for the rest of my life. You know, to watch him lead and watch him be, you know, the leader that everyone knows he is. It's definitely been great for me," he said.
As if it had been specially ordered by the NFL just for the Super Bowl's golden anniversary, Mother Nature delivered perfect party weather with blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures hovering around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. While the Panthers entered the game almost a touchdown favorite the majority of the fans filing into Levi's Stadium were decked out in Broncos orange.
"We were playing a different type of football team, a quarterback that moved. We had to do a lot of things very disciplined as far as our rush goes but we were juste exceptional. Our effort chasing him down, stopping the run, you know, getting the turnovers, that's the reason we're standing here tonight. So they were just ... the players were exceptional," said Denver Broncos Coach Gary Kubiak.