Super Bowl 50: Panthers, Broncos set for big stage

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MARK REIS and Mark Reis/Colorado Springs Gazzette | The Daily Wildcat Broncos wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas make angels in the confetti following Denver's 20-18 win in the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver. (Mark Reis/Colorado Springs Gazette/TNS)

Palmer chokes on big stage

Whether it was their defense or the Cardinals lacking offense, the Carolina Panthers steamrolled the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 in the National Football Conference Championship game.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer made poor decisions all game, which led to turnovers and then points by the Panthers. Palmer threw for 235 yards on 23-40 attempts, one touchdown and four interceptions. Each interception would add insult to injury for Cardinals fans everywhere, with Palmer throwing four interceptions for the fourth time in his career.

“I kept digging us in a hole,” Palmer said to ESPN.

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Overall, nothing went Arizona’s way. Their defense struggled to stop the surefire Panthers offense. Arizona’s offense was pitiful for most of the game. Patrick Peterson and the special teams made a key error on a muffed punt which led to a turnover.

The highlight of the game for the Cardinals was most definitely their rookie running back. David Johnson rushed for 60 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown. Johnson also added nine catches for 68 yards.

The star of the night was none other than Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Newton threw for 335 yards on 19-28 passing attempts, two touchdowns and one interception.

Analysts most certainly had something to say about Palmer’s performance, essentially destroying the quarterback on Twitter.

“I’ve lost a lot of respect for Carson Palmer in these two playoff games,” ESPN analyst Skip Bayless tweeted. “Ran away with reg-season QBR. Postseason stage too big for him.”

“Carolina deserves to win this game, but hate to see Carson Palmer’s season end this way,” NFL Network reporter Alex Flanagan tweeted. “He worked harder than any other season in his career.”

However, if you think about it, the state of Arizona and its team would be nowhere without its franchise quarterback. Palmer has been the face of the team the entire season and head coach Bruce Arians has always put his confidence in his quarterback. In fact, for most of the season, people were calling his name for MVP.

Broncos punch Super Bowl ticket

With 1:34 left on the clock, New England Patriot and former Arizona Wildcat Rob Gronkowski made the 40-yard catch of his life on fourth down. That was until 12 seconds remained in the fourth quarter, when Gronkowski somehow grabbed a miracle four-yard touchdown catch.

Even with eight catches for 144 yards, Gronkowski and the Patriots weren’t able to top the Denver Broncos defense with the final score being 20-18. The defense intercepted Tom Brady on a two-point attempt to end the game.

That same defense tallied two interceptions and four sacks on one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, Brady.

Peyton Manning will be heading to Super Bowl 50 (his fourth appearance) with one ring already in his pocket and as the oldest quarterback in NFL history to lead his team to the big game. The five-time NFL MVP has tallied quite the postseason numbers, especially in the Super Bowl. Manning has thrown for 860 yards and three touchdowns; however, he also has four interceptions in his three career appearances thus far.

The Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point attempt early in the game, which led to a two-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter. Gostkowski defended his teammate, blaming the loss on the entire team.

Brady threw for 310 yards on 27-56 passing attempts, one touchdown and two interceptions.


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