It’s such a popular saying it may make you roll your eyes, but defense wins championships. Despite offenses annually breaking new records during the regular season, the league’s top Ds lead the way when games truly count. Exhibit A: Super Bowl 50 between Denver and Carolina.

Almost all of the coverage leading up to the big game focused on the two quarterbacks: one an all-time great who may be playing his last game, the other handed his first MVP award the day before the coin toss. But Peyton Manning and Cam Newton were facing truly elite defenses and neither could muster a TD pass or passer rating above 57.

Carolina’s leading tacklers were no surprise as LBs Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis led the way, but the true difference maker on the unit was DE Kony Ealy who tied a Super Bowl record with three sacks and an incredible one-handed interception. Peyton and co. struggled to move down the field all day, but fortunately they had a dominant defense of their own to rely on.

Seven sacks. Four forced turnovers. The regular season’s top-ranked defense somehow got even better with each game. While the Broncos’ D got great play from every member of the squad, there were two players who will give Carolina’s offensive tackles nightmares for years to come: DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. Denver’s unmatched pass-rushing duo lived in the Panthers’ backfield with Ware getting 2 sacks and 4 QB hits and Miller getting 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and one well-deserved Super Bowl MVP award.

A great D, a solid special teams, and an offense that did just enough were Denver’s recipe for its third Lombardi Trophy, but does that make them the favorites for next year? Tell us who you think will square off in Super Bowl 51 in the comments.
Make sure to celebrate the Denver Broncos’ big win by grabbing this year’s title gear. No one has more styles and sizes than Eastbay.