I learned a valuable lesson the other night, never go back on what you stick your faith in. Defence wins championships, it’s been proven more often than not and that logic abandoned many as they felt the Panthers were just too good on both sides of the ball.
However, we had all forgotten that this Denver Broncos defence is very, very good. Last night, they proved they are possibly even greater than that and will go down on record as one of the best in history.
It carried them through a season, through the post-season and eventually in the big dance. They made the big plays they needed, getting to the quarterback and stifling receivers on all kinds of teams which then allowed them to win a championship under Gary Kubiak.
Peyton Manning looks now like he has that fairytale ending should he bow out, which he really should on evidence from this season. The new face of the team, Von Miller, shone as he has all season long and really lead a front seven that caused havoc in their two most important games of the season, which was so impressive.
The Panthers just never clicked into gear on offence, which killed them. The running game never got going, despite their insistence on giving the running back the ball on every first down to start a drive, which in turn gave them long distances on second and third down, which meant feeding time for the Denver pass rush.
Cam Newton couldn’t pull out his own heroics either, over-throwing early before finally settling into a rhythm, only to see his passes dropped. Greg Olsen was blanketed all game long, which hurt them the most, but praise to their stellar defence which kept them in the hunt right until the end, especially the breakout performance from Kony Ealy.
It always felt like one moment for Ron Rivera’s team would do it but Wade Phillip’s defence would never, ever allow that opportunity. They were stout, they were aggressive and they got everything they wanted, when they wanted it.
With every new Super Bowl champion, there’s talk of whether a dynasty could be built but in Denver, it’s a little tricky. They maximised what they had within Manning’s championship window and they now may have a few decisions to make.
Miller will rightfully get a monster deal, Brock Osweiler will have a lot of swing should Manning go through with retirement and then they still might need some space to shore up the depth chart. If none of the older players drop their level, they will contend again but their time will close quicker than the team they faced on Sunday.
As for Carolina, they should have the ability to bounce back, even though the NFC arguably has more depth of top teams to contend with. They have an excellent defence, a good offence with one of it’s best playmakers in Kelvin Benjamin coming back and they only have Josh Norman to worry about in free agency.
If they can find another little piece in the draft, keep the players fit and firing they will be a dangerous team again next year. They have a great coaching staff along with a good attitude and this won’t be the last time we see the Panthers as contenders.