“They did everything that we saw on film,” linebacker Brandon Marshall said to Andy Benoit of MMQB.com. “That's the crazy thing. You'd think with two weeks to prepare for the Super Bowl, they would do a new wrinkle. They did everything the same. Nothing new.”
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has earned his reputation as a dual-threat quarterback, but as both Marshall and Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips pointed out, but he was far from a run-first type of passer.
“He really doesn’t scramble a whole lot,” Phillips said about Newton. “He tries to throw from the pocket.”
“In a lot of games we saw on film, Newton was just sitting back, patting the ball,” Marshall said. “We'd see two (free defenders) in the middle of the field just not doing anything.”
As we all saw, the Broncos used those free defenders to attack the line of scrimmage. The defense finished with a combined 20 quarterback sacks and hits, and the defensive backs were responsible for four of them. In total, the Broncos racked up 34 sacks, hits and hurries combined, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Broncos succeeded not only in generating pressure, but also in holding the Panthers off the scoreboard and forcing them off the field on third downs. The Panthers finished with just 10 points, 315 yards of total offense and a 20 percent third-down conversion rate. They also turned the ball over four times.
Broncos safety T.J. Ward summed up his feelings on why the Broncos’ defense as able to dominate the Panthers’ offense in one sentence.