Denver Broncos beat Carolina Panthers to win Super Bowl

Peyton Manning clinched a fairytale second Super Bowl victory as the Denver Broncos produced an astonishing defensive display to defeat the Carolina Panthers 24-10 here Sunday.

Denver Broncos won their first Super Bowl since 1998 and third overall.   -  REUTERS

Peyton Manning clinched a fairytale second Super Bowl victory as the Denver Broncos produced an astonishing defensive display to defeat the Carolina Panthers 24-10 here Sunday.

Denver running back C.J Anderson crashed over for the decisive touchdown late in the fourth quarter as the Broncos defence harried Panthers superstar quarterback Cam Newton into a string of mistakes at the Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.

The much anticipated duel between Manning - the oldest starting quarterback in Super Bowl history - and NFL Most Valuable Player Newton never materialised.

Instead it was left to Denver's suffocating defence to decide the contest, with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware smothering the Panthers at every opportunity as the Broncos racked up a record-equalling seven sacks.

Miller - named Super Bowl MVP - ultimately set up the crucial Denver score, forcing Newton into a fumble which the Broncos recovered close to the Carolina goal line, handing Anderson the chance to barge over.

Manning, 39, was largely a peripheral figure throughout, struggling to make any impression with his passing game as defences dominated.

The veteran quarterback is widely expected to call time on his career at the end of the season, and can now do so with a second Super Bowl ring to set alongside the one he earned with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007.

"It's very special, I'm very proud of these guys," Manning said afterwards. "I'm just glad we didn't have to play against our defence."

Manning was coy about his possible retirement, saying he was unwilling to make a decision in the heat of the moment.

"I'll take some time to reflect," he said. "It's been an emotional week and it's an emotional night."



Panthers rattled

An absorbing first half saw defences on top, with Denver's vaunted unit rattling the free-scoring Carolina offence.

Denver drew first blood, Manning quickly into his rhythm to march the Broncos upfield in a 10-play 64-yard drive that culminated with Brandon McManus drilling over a 34-yard field goal.

After punting on their first possession the Panthers looked nervy on their second possession, unable to find any room for manoeuvre in the face of Denver defenders playing like men possessed.

Disaster struck on a long third down on the Carolina 15-yard line, when Miller swarmed through to smother Newton, stripping the ball loose and allowing Malik Jackson to recover for a dramatic touchdown for 10-0.

As the first quarter drew to a close there were signs that Newton was finally kicking into top gear.

A trademark 11-yard run and another 12-yard gallop upfield stretched Denver's defence and helped propel Carolina deep into the red zone from where Jonathan Stewart barrelled over from one yard for the touchdown.

Graham Gano duly added the extra point and suddenly the Panthers were on the front foot, forcing Denver to kick away three consecutive possessions.



Chance spurned

Denver went 13-7 up with another McManus field goal before Carolina spurned the chance to draw closer when Gano missed a 44-yard effort.

It was left for Denver to get the first points on the board in the second half, with Manning twice connecting with Emmanuel Sanders in a 54-yard drive to Carolina's 12-yard line.

Once again though, the Broncos were unable to make a red zone visit pay with a touchdown, with McManus adding his third field goal to give Denver a nine-point lead.

Carolina looked to be building ominous momentum on the next drive, when Newton launched a long pass to find Corey Brown for a 42-yard gain. But the drive ended when Newton's long pass to Ginn was intercepted by Broncos safety T.J. Ward who fumbled only to see his team-mates recover.

Denver was unable to make any impression on the Carolina defence and seemed to be content to punt again knowing that the Panthers were getting little joy from the Broncos defence.

The tactic proved vindicated on the next Carolina drive, which stalled when Miller sacked Newton for the second time in the match forcing a punt.

But Denver's own offence was always struggling to capitalise on its opponent's problems, and they squandered a 1st and 10 situation on Carolina's 37-yard line when Manning twice fumbled on successive plays to hand the ball back to the Panthers who reduced the deficit to 16-10 with a Gano field goal.

Yet once again Denver's defence came through when it mattered, and when Miller forced Newton into his late fumble, Denver was home.