Storybook endings rarely happen in sports. We witnessed one of them happen tonight, as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game won his second Super Bowl in what was very likely his final game. This wasn't the Peyton Manning we're used to, however - this was a Peyton Manning who struggled to move the football and instead opted to put it all on his defense.
Just like it has all season, that proved to be the best strategy. The Broncos defense overwhelmed Tom Brady and the Patriots in the AFC Championship game with a dominant pass rush, and they lived up to the hype tonight. Wade Phillips' unit took over the game like few we've seen in recent years, applying constant pressure to Cam Newton and blanketing the Panthers receivers. Final score: Broncos 24, Panthers 10.
It was a defensive battle all around, as both units played very good games tonight. The Broncos' defense, was simply fantastic, and they did enough to lead the Broncos to the victory in scoring a defensive touchdown and forcing four turnovers. Von Miller further solidified his status as one of the best players in the game currently with an incredible performance today, recording 2.5 sacks and making an even bigger impact.
The story of the day, however, belongs to Peyton Manning. One of the best players in NFL history, who had the worst season of his career, finally got a defense good enough to carry him to a Super Bowl. The Broncos did just that, and Manning can ride off into the sunset with his second Super Bowl victory. It's a perfect ending, even though the Peyton Manning we saw today wasn't anywhere near the Hall of Famer he is. He knows that he rode his defense to this point, but that's perfectly fine: he gets the opportunity to go out a champion. It's the culmination of an extraordinary career, and it's incredibly well-deserved.
The Broncos are Super Bowl champions behind an incredibly dominant defense, winning a title for their veteran quarterback in what was likely his final NFL game. Yes, folks, storybook endings sometimes do exist.