Not that this was Manning's game. In fact, he wasn't very good last night, but when combined with a ferocious Broncos defense, he was good enough, and his poor game stats will not be inscribed on that Super Bowl ring he will be receiving a few months from now. Also, a second Super Bowl championship will surely erase the memories of generally uneven performances in post-season play in his extraordinary career. So, congratulations, Peyton Manning. I am glad that it ended this way.
On the other side of the field, the football world was preparing to anoint Cam Newton as the new Face of the NFL after what would surely be a relatively easy win over Denver. Well, once again we were all taught a lesson that you really do have to play the game before you can claim victory. Newton's MVP season will surely be tarnished by what was a generally poor performance and by failing to attempt to recover his own fumble late in the game while deep in his own territory when his team was trailing by only six points. This was an action that has been called everything from "questionable" to "hard to defend" to "gutless" from various sources in the wake of the conclusion of the game. And, finally, perhaps most indefensible of all, was his performance in his post-game press conference when he showed up in a hoodie, mumbled one word answers, and the got up and walked out two and half minutes into it.
For a guy who loved the media attention all week and used it as his own bully pulpit, such a performance was inexcusable. You can't have it both ways, Cam. Contrast it to how Russell Wilson faced the music last year after his goal line interception cost the Seahawks a Bowl win. Bill Bellichick gets ripped all the time for what a sore loser he can be with the press. Newton deserves no less. As one wag put it, he went from Superman to the Incredible Sulk in a period of three hours.
As for other comments, I took notes (yep, I actually did) during the game to record my thoughts and impressions in real time, and here are some of them, in no particular order.
- Two minutes and twenty seconds is way too long to drag out the Star Spangled Banner, but despite that, Lady Gaga's rendition of the Anthem was magnificent.
- The Doritos commercial with the pregnant lady getting an ultra-sound scan of her baby was really good. In fact, it was to me the only notable commercial of the day.
- First quarter. Jericho Cotchery's catch for a significant gain is ruled incomplete and that ruling in then, incredibly, upheld upon review. I have a good friend who is an NFL official (he was not working yesterday), and I truly respect the work that the zebras have to do in any given game, but THAT WAS A CATCH!!!! The NFL rules interpretation of what constitutes a "catch" is ridiculous.
- The non-catch proved to be significant, because shortly thereafter, while still deep in their own territory, Denver forced a Cam Newton fumble that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Would the end result of the game had been different if that Cotchery play was correctly ruled? We'll never know.
- Twice in the first half (and it happened again in the second half), Denver got inside the Panther twenty and had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. At the time, I thought that this would come back to bite Denver in the hindquarters, but it didn't, as things turned out.
- With 3:12 remaining in the third quarter and the score 16-7, I wrote "Are Carolina's sphincters getting tight here?" I guess I was right.
- With 9:00 to play in the game, after yet another Denver "three-and-out", I wondered what was the Super Bowl record for "Three-and-Outs"? I never did find out, but if those teams didn't set the record last night, they surely had to have come close.
Now for the obligatory comment on the Halftime Show. It's not that I dislike Coldplay, but it's more to the point that I am unfamiliar with them and their work. As a result, I had no interest in the halftime show. I glanced at it, but was pretty much occupied with otter things during the intermission. I also wonder if the NFL had doubts about Coldplay, too, since they felt the need to beef up the show with appearances by Beyonce and Bruno Mars, two headliners from previous Super Bowls. In any event, what I did see was just a display of Excess and Sensory Overload that was just too much to take in. I find that I just don't care about these halftime extravaganzas anymore.
Also, from what I am seeing on social media today, there apparently is some controversy surrounding Beyonce's performance, either in the song lyrics themselves or some gestures that she made. If that is the case, and this blows up into another PR disaster for the League, then I suggest that NFL bring in a couple of dogs who chase and catch Frisbees for next year's show. Or bring back the Florida A&M band. Better yet, bring in the Stanford band. They would no doubt put on such an iconoclastic show, that the NFL would long for a return of Janet Jackson's bare bosom.