By Zack Peñalva, Sports Editor
The old cliché is that defense wins championship. What that doesn’t include is that watching two defensive teams can lead to some of the most sluggish, unexciting football imaginable.
I’m not a purist. I’m sure someone would love to lecture me the defensive tactics and the depth of the strategy that both teams refined to counter the other’s adjustments, but those people are probably really boring.
This isn’t to say that the defense didn’t have some incredible plays. Von Miller was 100 percent deserving of the MVP award for the work he put in pressuring Cam Newton. Carolina’s Kony Ealy pretty much singlehandedly kept the Panthers in the game with how dominant he was off the line.
But outside of the moments where the defense would force a turnover or a sack, the game turned into a snore fest. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Peyton Manning and Cam Newton collectively went 31 for 64 passing, got sacked 12 times and threw an interception apiece. Watching the two play quarterback was more a chore than anything else. Drive starts, sack, run for loss, over/under thrown pass, punt, switch teams, repeat.
Maybe I set my expectations too high. Maybe the game has changed to the point where an elite defense can more than make up for a lackluster offense. Maybe expecting more than one offensive touchdown in the biggest game of the year was too much.
By no means do I think that the Broncos don’t deserve the championship. They were easily the better team against the Panthers. Good enough that Carolina was destined to look average when forced to go up such a ridiculously good defense.
At this point, the Super Bowl has become bigger than just the game. The fanfare and production was still as high as ever and the recently released Nielsen ratings show that it was enough to be the third most-watched television program in history. And that’s the beauty of it. Even at its worst, it’s still one of the most impressive productions of the entire year.
And even if the game didn’t reach the excitement of Super Bowls past, it was still football. And that’s what fans will be missing the most until next season starts.