The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers opened up the 2016 season with a bang. The Super Bowl L rematch was filled with big hits, exciting plays, and a last-second play to determine the outcome of the game.
The Panthers struck first, as Kelvin Benjamin reminded the league why he was a first round draft pick in 2014. After missing the entire 2015 season with an ACL injury, Cam Newton found Benjamin in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown in their first drive of the season. Kelvin had an excellent game back, as Cam threw his way 12 times for six receptions, 91 yards, and one touchdown
The Panthers would head into halftime with a 17-7 lead, with a two-yard Cam Newton touchdown run and 28-yard run by Broncos fullback Andy Janovich to round up the scoring in the first half. There would be no scoring in the third quarter, as the quarter featured four punts and an interception from first-year starter Trevor Siemian.
The Broncos would turn the game upside down in the fourth quarter, scoring touchdowns on two straight drives. C.J. Anderson took a Siemian pass 25-yards to the house, capping off an eight-play, 78-yard drive. Two plays after the kickoff, Chris Harris would intercept Cam Newton to set up the the go-ahead touchdown. Anderson would score once again with just under five minutes go to in the game.
The Panthers would then only come up with a field goal to make it 21-20, but would get the ball back with just over three minutes remaining in the game, after forcing a three-and-out. Cam and the offense would set up Graham Gano for a 50-yard field goal with nine seconds left. Gano missed the kick wide left to give the Broncos their first victory of the season.
Cam would take a beating in the loss, as he was sacked three times, was hit eight more, and also received hits on his 11 run attempts. The Broncos defense looked like they didn’t miss a step, playing very much like the Super Bowl defense from last season. Panthers tickets will be hard to find next week, as the Panthers face the San Francisco 49ers in their home opener. The Broncos will play their second straight home game against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.