The berths have been settled. The number one seeds in each conference will be going on to battle each other in Super Bowl 50.
The Carolina Panthers win over the Arizona Cardinals defined dominance. Cam Newton threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more and the Panthers’ defense snatched four interceptions and two forced fumbles from Carson Palmer.
Ted Ginn Jr. was also a major contributor for the Panthers. The former Cardinal returned a punt 32 yards to set up his own winding 22-yard touchdown run and he chased down Cardinals’ All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson and preventing him from scoring with an interception in the second quarter.
Panthers’ linebacker Luke Kuechly grabbed one of those interceptions early on in the first quarter and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown.
Panthers’ linebacker Kurt Coleman had two interceptions including one in the end zone to snuff out a Cardinals’ scoring drive that started after Peterson’s interception, which he returned 72 yards to the Carolina 23 yard line.
Panthers’ free safety Tre Boston also had an interception.
Even the Panthers’ special teams were involved scooping up a Patrick Peterson muffed punt that led to a Panthers’ score. The drive included two Jonathan Stewart runs –- one for 17 and the other for 23 – and a one-yard leap over the scrimmage line by Newton for the score.
Palmer had far less than a stellar day as he finished with 23 completions on 40 attempts for 235 yards, one touchdown, four interceptions and two fumbles. He was sacked three times.
Leading rusher for the Cardinals was David Johnson, who gained 60 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown. Leading receiver was David Johnson, who caught nine passes for 68 yards. Tight end Darren Fells caught two passes for 36 yards and a touchdown. Both Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd were kept in check. Fitzgerald could manage only four catches for 30 yards and Floyd grabbed three passes for 37 yards.
Newton finished with 19 completions on 28 attempts for 335 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed for 47 yards on 10 carries and scored twice. Leading rusher for the Panthers was Jonathan Stewart, who gained 83 yards on 19 carries. Leading receivers were Corey Brown and Greg Olsen. Brown caught four passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. Olsen caught six for 113. Devin Funchess caught two passes for 21 yards and a touchdown. Graham Gano kicked two field goals, one from 45 yards out. PANTHERS 49 CARDINALS 15
The Denver Broncos’ defense grabbed two interceptions and sacked New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady four times, Bradley Roby intercepted a Brady pass that stopped a two-point conversion try that would have forced the game into overtime, and Brandon McManus contributed two field goals, one for 52 yards, and the Broncos defeated the Patriots and punched their ticket to Super Bowl 50.
It wasn’t Manning’s best performance, but it was enough for the win. He finished with 17 completions on 31 attempts for 176 yards, two touchdowns and a fumble. He was sacked three times.
Denver’s linebacker Von Miller and defensive end DeMarcus Ware harassed Brady all day. Miller finished with two and one-half sacks and an interception. Ware finished with half a sack and seven quarterback hits.
Brady hit Rob Gronkowski in the back of the end zone on fourth down and four that set up the failed two-point conversion try. Two points were necessary because Patriots’ kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point try after a touchdown in the first quarter. It was his first miss in 524 attempts.
Leading rusher for the Broncos was C.J. Anderson, who gained 72 yards on 16 carries. Leading receiver was Emmanuel Sanders, who caught five passes for 62 yards. Owen Daniels caught two passes for 33 yards and two touchdowns.
Brady finished with 27 completions on 56 attempts for 310 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He was sacked four times. The Patriots’ running corps could only muster a combined 44 yards on 17 carries. Steven Jackson rushed for one touchdown. Leading receiver was Gronkowski, who caught eight passes for 144 yards and a touchdown. Julian Edelman caught seven passes for 53 yards and James White caught five for 45 yards. Although Gostkowski missed an extra point attempt, he was successful on two field goals, one for 46 yards. BRONCOS 20 PATRIOTS 18
SUPER BOWL 50
PANTHERS vs. BRONCOS SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2016 6:30 P.M. ET
Courtesy of the Carolina Panthers