The full quote, attributed to the late coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, is “Offense sells tickets. Defense wins championships.” That last part has been debated over the years, but it certainly held true in this year's Super Bowl. Denver's defense shut down Carolina's offense in a 24-10 win.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning didn't throw a touchdown pass. He didn't have to. After an early field goal, the Bronco defense forced a Cam Newton fumble that was recovered in the end zone. It was 10-0 at the end of the first quarter and the Broncos would never trail. Manning only passed for 141 yards, and also threw an interception. If this were the regular season and you had him on your fantasy team, you'd probably drop him next week. But fans probably won't remember the numbers he put up in what was likely and hopefully his last game. Manning didn't want to upstage his teammates, and the organization's accomplishment, but you have to believe this is it.
“I learned from my coach Tony Dungy. Never make an emotional decision”, Manning told CBS' Tracy Wolfson. Maybe the decision hasn't been made, but you've got to think it will be soon. Last night, Manning became the first NFL quarterback to win Super Bowls with two different teams. He's also now the first to have 200 total wins—regular season and playoffs. Add that to all of his other accomplishments, and it's a perfect ride off into the sunset.
If Manning does call it quits, Super Bowl 50, complete with past stars like Joe Montana, Lynn Swann, and Joe Namath in attendance, will be remembered as Peyton's last hurrah, and not for the defense by both sides. Early in the second quarter, Carolina scored their only touchdown on a Jonathan Stewart one yard run. He didn't give the ball to a kid in the stands like he does at home, and probably didn't know at the time that would be the Panthers' highlight of the night.
Cam Newton was sacked six times. He also threw an interception, but did have more yards passing than Manning (265). Manning was sacked five times, so it wasn't just the Denver D that was getting it done. Von Miller, who forced two Cam Newton fumbles, was the game's MVP in the lowest scoring Super Bowl in eight years (Giants beat New England 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII). Miller was the star of the game, but Manning will be the one remembered, which proves Bear's point, at least for this year. It is the offense that sells the tickets. Defense wins championships.
Pregame: Maybe the best rendition of the Star Spangled Banner since shortly after 9/11. No gimmicks from Lady Gaga, just an accompanying piano player, and dressed in a red suit with white hair and blue nails, belted every note into the highest rafter of that stadium. They won't admit it, but grown men were welled up with tears after that performance. That should be the version that you hear at ball games when they don't have an anthem singer lined up, or one fails to show, or just because it's going to be better than anything else they have.
Halftime: So I wasn't the only one who thought the 13-minute halftime show seemed 'unreal'? I'm not sure if it was the low angle, the bright colors, or maybe because the audio wasn't all that great, but it didn't feel like a live performance, at least at first. Coldplay got the crowd going with the opening strains of Viva La Vida, then segued into Paradise, one of their most recent, but not biggest hits. You got the feeling they were the opening act for Bruno Mars and Beyonce, who rocked and danced the house down for the next several minutes. At the end, Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin looked like a fan trying to crash the party when the three of them were on stage. However, closing with the refrain from Fix You to clips of halftime shows from years past was very cool, and the color cards the audience was holding up reminds me of attending Super Bowl XI as a kid when we did the same thing, but obviously much lower tech. It's worth noting, if you DVR'd the game, watch the halftime show again. It's much better the second time.
Commercials: Most of the talk today was about the Kevin Hart ad where he let's his daughter's date take his Hyundai, which is equipped with the 'carfinder' feature. You see the young couple on their date with Hart showing up everywhere and scaring the boy, because “a dad's gotta do what a dad's gotta do.”...The Snickers 'Marilyn Monroe turning into Willem Dafoe' was pretty funny, but not as good as the Brady Bunch bit last year...I loved the Avacados from Mexico ad where aliens were given a tour of Earth's features, but no one wanted to feed Scott Baio...For some reason, we got an 'opioid induced constipation' ad in the first half where a guy noticed that everyone could go to the bathroom but him, and a medicine ad for diarrhea in the second half with an animated bowel running around looking for a place to go. Could have done without either of them...We heard about Budweiser's 'drink responsibly spot', but unless you like being called a bunch of names by Helen Mirren, kind of missed the mark. The Skittles spot with Steven Tyler was pretty funny, but the Heinz ad with the wiener dogs, and the sheep singing Queen's 'Somebody to Love' when humans weren't looking in the Honda Ridgeline spot were my favorites.