Short takes: Both quarterbacks struggle but it was a day for defenses

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning celebrates after beating the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., Feb. 7, 2016. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning celebrates after beating the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A dominating performance by the Denver Broncos’ defense (seven sacks, four turnovers) led them to a 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Sunday’s Super Bowl. To read my column on the game on, click here.

Below are my three “short takes” on the game.

1. Peyton Manning and his legacy are safe: Several of Manning’s former coaches, as well as family members, were in attendance for what almost certainly was Manning’s final game. As I wrote earlier in Super Bowl week — to read the column, click here — anybody who was going to judge Manning’s legacy based on his final game is shortchanging the man and every remarkable accomplishment in his career. The fact he completed only 13 of 23 passes for 141 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception was a byproduct of a broken down body, notably his spine (four neck surgeries) and a torn plantar fascia tendon that limited him to nine starts. But it didn’t affect his leadership or what he means to this team. He deserved this.

2. About Cam and the Panthers: Cam Newton did not have a great game (18 for 41 for 265 yards and zero touchdowns with three turnovers (one interception, two fumbles). But that was about Denver’s defense and the Broncos’ ability to break down Carolina’s offensive line and stuff the run. The Panthers are still the best team in the NFC South and it’s worth noting played all season without their best receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, who might have made a difference in a game like this.

3. Hold on, Mr. Commissioner: Lost in NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s news conference Friday — during which he foolishly said in response to a question on head injuries in football, “There’s risk in life. There’s risk in sitting on the couch” — was his suggestion that players should be ejected if they get two personal fouls in a game. We saw one problem with that potential rule in the Super Bowl. Denver cornerback Aqib Talib was called for a “taunting” in the first quarter after a third-and-8 sack on Newton, but it was a pretty weak call by the official. Early in the second quarter, Talib was flagged for a blatant face mask penalty after throwing down Carolina receiver Corey Brown. Under Goodell’s proposed rule, the Broncos would have lost one of their best defenders with 11:28 left in the first half.

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You got to see the real Cam Newton after the game was over.