Halftime: Broncos 13, Panthers 7
Analysis: The defenses continued to thrive, as both teams forced a turnover in the second quarter. Carolina quarterback Cam Newton again had difficulty after they started the quarter strong with a touchdown drive. The Panthers were unable to solve Denver’s defense with the run or pass. Newton provided their own threat on the ground with 46 yards rushing on five attempts in the first half. The Broncos had their own problems on offense. Peyton Manning completed 9 of 16 passes for 76 yards, and Denver managed just four first downs in the first half.
Key play: The Panthers could easily have found themselves in a big hole in the first half. And it looked as if that might be the case when Denver’s Jordan Norwood took Brad Nortman’s punt and had clear sailing down the right sideline. However, Carolina defensive lineman Mario Addison, a 260-pounder, made a tremendous hustle play to track down Norwood at the 14-yard line. The play helped Carolina hold Denver to just a field goal. Norwood’s 61-yard punt return was the longest in Super Bowl history.
This ‘n’ that: After his taunting penalty in the first quarter, Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib got his money’s worth with a facemask penalty at the end of a 13-yard gain by Panthers receiver Corey Brown. The penalty occurred at the 2-yard line, so it cost Denver only 1 yard. Running back Jonathan Stewart, who returned to action after a foot injury in the first quarter, scored on the next play. Then, Talib accounted for his third penalty when he jumped offside on the extra point. The penalty was assessed on the kickoff. . . Panthers coach Ron Rivera used up his second and final challenge to get referee Clete Blakeman to overturn his call of an incomplete pass. Upon review, Blakeman agreed with Rivera that Addison touched Peyton Manning, and that was why he went to the ground. The reversal meant a 7-yard sack. . . The Panthers attempted a trick play at about the 10-minute mark when Newton threw a lateral across the field to Ted Ginn, who looked to throw it back to the left side for Newton but was held up by a Broncos defender. With Newton occupied, Ginn held the ball and took a sack for no gain. . . Denver coach Gary Kubiak decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Carolina 5. C.J. Anderson picked up the necessary yardage, but guard Louis Vasquez was called for holding to nullify the play. The Broncos settled for Brandon McManus’ 33-yard field goal. . . The Panthers got into midfield on Newton’s 14-yard run, coupled with an unnecessary-roughness penalty on Denver’s Malik Jackson. But Panthers running back Mike Tolbert fumbled on the next play. Safety Darian Stewart made the hit, and linebacker Danny Trevathan had the recovery at the Denver 40. . . Anderson ripped off a 34-yard carry on their second play after the fumble to move the Broncos to the Carolina 26. . . But Panthers defensive Kony Ealy ended that scoring threat with a one-handed interception of a Manning pass. It was Manning’s first interception in 164 postseason pass attempts. . . The Panthers’ biggest play of the first half came when he connected with receiver Devin Funchess on a 24-yard pass on a third-and-12 play late in the quarter. . . But, as the Broncos did for much of the first quarter, they got heat on Newton and closed out the half with DeMarcus Ware’s sack on the final play.