It might have been the worst Super Bowl I watched not involving the Buffalo Bills.
It was so bad, in fact, it felt like a Thursday Night Football game on NFL Network.
Simply put, Super Bowl 50 was terrible.
It was supposed to be must-see TV on Sunday. Instead, it was dud-see TV.
The story lines were in place for a classic, one for the ages. You had the hyped, young Cam Newton, the NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, against the veteran, fading star Peyton Manning in a quarterback battle suitable for framing.
You had the No. 1 defense in the Denver Broncos up against the No. 1 offense in the Carolina Panthers. Super powers were supposed to collide.
Instead of an epic game, the Broncos’ 24-10 victory at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California was ugly and disappointing for most football fans.
In Denver, of course, no one cared. A win is a win. The Broncos have the trophy and are champs.
But for the rest, the big game left a lot to be desired, especially from Newton.
Newton was supposed to take the torch from Manning. Instead, Newton was beyond bad, he was terrible. He was 18-for-41 for 265 yards, had a pick and fumbled the ball two times, one that led to the first TD of the game and gave Denver a 10-0 in this snooze-fest.
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
Manning was worse. He was 13-for-23 for 141 yards with an INT. He was sacked five times and lost a fumble.
Neither quarterback threw a touchdown.
Here are the ugly numbers. It was a penalty-filled contest – 18 total for 153 yards. There were 12 punts.
The Broncos had a paltry 194 total yards of offense – the lowest for a Super Bowl champ in history.
It was hardly a game many, if any, expected.
With the numbers Newton put up en route to going 17-1 to get to the Super Bowl, many expected a magical night, one of those moments you’d remember forever. Like when Doug Williams was the first starting black quarterback to win the Super Bowl in 1988.
Williams passed for a SB record 340 yards and four touchdowns. In doing so, Williams became the first player in Super Bowl history to pass for four touchdowns in a single quarter and four in a half. He was MVP.
Coming in, it was hard to imagine that Denver would be able to stop Cam. No one had.
This past regular season, Newton threw 35 touchdowns and rushed for 10 more. He was the first player ever to accomplish the feat (30 passing TDs and 10 rushing TDs in single season).
He also became the only QB ever to have 300 yards passing, five TD passes and over 100 yards rushing in the same game.
Coming in, the numbers were gaudy, indeed. So was Cam’s game. His confidence and swag matched his game.
Somehow, that guy didn’t show. It wasn’t just Newton’s fault. The offensive line was terrible and didn’t protect him. Receivers had some big drops. The refs didn’t help and neither did the replay official on play most thought was a catch in the first half.
Nonetheless, Newton never adjusted to what the Broncos were doing to him. He didn’t keep the defense honest, by running out of a pocket that kept caving in.
And while Newton didn’t live up to the hype, Manning was what we knew he was.
Coming into the game, many wanted to stroll down memory lane and root for Manning to have a Hollywood ending to his career.
They want the old, broken-down QB to ride off into the sunset with his second Super Bowl, putting him into the record book as the only NFL starting QB to win two Super Bowls with two different teams.
It was a total pipe dream. Watching Manning after the first drive, it was apparent his tank was empty. There was no zip on the ball. And even when he was given great field position by his defense, he struggled in the red zone to cash in big.
For sure, I thought Super Bowl 50 was going to be ugly. In that Newton would come of age, blow out the Broncos.
That didn’t happen. Nothing worth reliving did.