Broncos beat Panthers to win Super Bowl 50 title: 16 things to know

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Peyton Manning hasn't been Peyton Manning in more than a year. But it hasn't mattered for much of 2015 and all of 2016 because the Denver Broncos ' defense has been damn near impenetrable, both at the line of scrimmage and in the secondary.

And it was no surprise that Manning had another lackluster performance, but you know what's even less surprising than that? Von Miller dominating a helpless-to-do-anything-about-it Panthers offensive line and treating a much stronger, more athletic Cam Newton like he was Tom Brady in the AFC Championship Game.

Von Miller was lights out against the Panthers. (USATSI)
Von Miller was lights out against the Panthers. (USATSI)

It was one of the most dominating MVP-level performances we've seen in a while. And as long as we're handing out awards, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the man responsible for the NFL's best defense all season, also deserves a ton of credit.

Manning's final numbers -- 13 of 23 for 141 yards, no touchdowns and one pick -- should only reinforce the notion that he should call it a career. At 39, he now has two Super Bowl rings -- Eli can't hold that over him anymore! -- and there really is nothing left for him to prove. He's also a shell of his former self, at least physically, and it's hard to imagine him trying to slog his way through another season, one that almost certainly wouldn't be in Denver.

And there's also the nice parallel of following in the footsteps of the last man to bring a Lombardi Trophy to the organization: John Elway retired at 38, and five years later he was inducted into the Hall of Fame -- which is the same fate that awaits Manning, who would leave the game with 200 career wins.

CBS Sports' TracyWolfson asked Manning about his retirement plans on the field, moments after winning the Super Bowl.

"I'll take some time to reflect," he said before adding that he'd first like to "go home and drink some Budweisers."

That's good advice for us all. All right, to the things to know about Super Bowl 50 ...

1. What if C.J. Anderson doesn't score late in the fourth quarter to make it 24-10?

Do the Panthers have a shot? We ask partly because of history:

But also because the Panthers had done next to nothing against the Broncos' defense all night.

Yes, the Broncos' defense was very, very, very good. But the Panthers' offense has been of the high-powered variety for much of the season. We never saw that on Sunday and it was a culmination of missed opportunities -- whether we're talking about off-target throws, dropped passes, or terrible pass protection -- and, again, that Denver D.

2. Two of the most athletic plays came from non-skill-position players. And, yes, "non-skill-position players" is a euphemism for Fat Guy Touchdown, or its non-scoring variation. Anyway, early in the game, Broncos defensive lineman Malik Jackson recovered a Cam Newton fumble in the end zone and air-mailed the football into the stands to give the Broncos a 10-0 lead.

And then late in the first half, Kony Ealy looked like the Panthers' best pass catcher when he did this to an off-target Peyton Manning pass.

We've heard a lot in the last week about how Jackson will be getting paid this offseason, but Ealy had an enormous game too.

When it was over, Ealy had three sacks and generated the team's two turnovers. By the way, that was Manning's first interception in 164 post-season pass attempts. And if not for the little fact about the Broncos winning, Ealy would've been an MVP favorite.

3. But to the victor ... Which brings us back to Miller, who abused the Panthers' offensive line for three-plus hours on his way to earning MVP honors. The highlight (or lowlight, depending on your perspective), was this:

4. Aqib Talib had a rough stretch over the first 30 minutes. Talib is one of the Broncos' best players, though you wouldn't have known it to watch him after the whistle -- at least in the first half. He was flagged for two personal foul penalties -- including this blatant face mask.

Talib got the hat trick with an offsides penalty later in the half. Funny story: On Friday, commissioner Roger Goodell suggested that players who get two personal fouls in a game should be suspended.

The fun didn't stop there, though. Talib's night concluded with a fall off the NFL Network TV set

5. So, about those Panthers' first-half challenges. First of all, we're still not sure how this wasn't a catch:

The Panthers challenged ... and lost.

Then, with more than 11 minutes to go in the second quarter, the officials missed this Peyton Manning sack and the Panthers had to challenge again. The officials got that one right, but at the expense of the Panthers having no more challenges with 41 minutes to play.

But before we fire up the WHAT'S RON DOING?! #hottake machine, this seems like a perfectly reasonable explanation:

6. So did it come back to haunt the Panthers? Well, Josh Norman almost had a pick on the next play.

And the play after that, Luke Kuechly introduced himself to Demaryius Thomas .

And unless Rivera would have been allowed to challenge the various missed blocks by his offensive line, that had nothing to do with the final score.

7. Hey, look, it's Aqib Talib again! The Panthers looked much sharper to start the second half (perhaps it was all the Coldplay) but the drive stalled and they had to settle for a 44-yard Graham Gano field goal attempt. The ball doinked off the right upright but not before Aqib Talib (remember him?) looked to be offsides (he's the widest player to the right of the shot below).

The sideline angle showed a better view and it's not completely clear that Talib is offsides. But it's close.

 (CBS)

Either way, not helping:

8. Philly Brown > Philly. We're mentioning this Philly Brown 42-yard reception midway through the third quarter for two reasons: it's awesome ...

And this ...

Several plays later, Newton threw a laser over the middle, Ted Ginn couldn't haul it in. T.J. Ward intercepted -- and then fumbled -- before Danny Trevathan eventually fell on it.

So yeah.

9. Two interesting stats:

And this:

10. This play serves as a microcosm for the Panthers' pass protection. Anyone blaming Newton for not playing well needs to take another look at the offensive line's performance.

11. Kevin Durant is more than a basketball player. On Sunday, he was on the sidelines with the other photographers taking photographs.

12. This is our favorite Super Bowl halftime photograph of all time:

13. This might be our favorite photograph of Super Bowl 50:

14. The man makes a good point.

15. Almost seems like a passing of the guard.

16. And with that, we'll leave Betty White with the last word. Because, well, it's Betty White.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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