Super Bowl 50 was a victory for the working man over the showman. It was a game where tough defense and small, unsexy, incremental moves trumped exciting, flashy plays which make the crowd go "oooh".
But who cares about entertaining the fans when you're winning Super Bowls? Not the human brick wall known as the Denver Broncos defense, not Broncos fans, and definitely not quarterback Peyton Manning, who had won a Super Bowl nine years ago with the Indianapolis Colts, but who turns 40 next month and was widely considered too old and too slow to win this year, despite his undoubtedly brilliant football brain.
But Manning and his Broncos did indeed triumph. The final score was 24-10. By winning, they silenced not just Carolina Panthers fans and a list of doubters as long as the Mississippi River, but a whole swarm of people who who think Cam Newton is the greatest thing ever. Newton is obviously the first person on that list.
A few more words about the Carolina quarterback. Newton has got it all. He runs for more touchdowns than anyone and he throws better than anyone too. He is versatility personified, and was a clear choice for MVP of the league this year. Newton, 26, is at the absolute peak of his powers.
He is also the ultimate showman, who to some extent divided America this season with his antics. Here's a selection.
— Cris Collinsworth (@CollinsworthNBC) February 7, 2016
In the humble opinion of this writer, Newton is unfairly derided in some quarters. He presents each touchdown ball to a kid in the crowd and the kids always go nuts. Who wouldn't love a guy who does that? But this was not Newton's day. There was to be no dabbing at the end of play ("dabbing" is the word for Newton's signature dance moves).
Some people use the nickname "Superman" for Cam Newton. It's another reference to his celebration moves, and Newton himself has played on it.
By contrast, Peyton Manning's nickname is The Sheriff. It suggests a more measured, orderly approach to awesomeness, which in many ways reflect the way he plays football. US sports website sbnation.com describes the nickname's origins thus:
"The nickname first came to prominence in 2009 during a Monday Night Football game between the Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins. ESPN's Jon Gruden first used it, saying that Manning 'lays down the law' in opposing teams' stadiums."
On Sunday in the USA, a man with a steel badge beat the man of steel. But as mentioned, the main force behind the win was that steely Broncos defense.
Super Bowl 50, which for the record was the first season-decider not annotated with Roman numerals, was about running hard and straight and brutal tackling rather than dancing. It wasn't a great ad for the game. But it was a wonderful ad for toughness and resilience. They always say defense wins big matches. That, in a nutshell, is what happened in San Francisco on Sunday.
Broncos linebacker Von Miller was named MVP. If one man personified the Broncos defense, it was him. The 26-year-old forced two fumbles. First there was this one, which handed Denver its first touchdown.
Von Miller went off tonight 🔥 pic.twitter.com/7LH8PBHhq7— Sports Mixes (@sports_mixes) February 8, 2016
And then there was this one, which was pretty much the moment that snuffed out Carolina's hopes.
Cam Newton trying to throw a ball that wasn't there is an image that kind of summed up his whole night.
Meanwhile, Peyton Manning and his brother Eli now have two Super Bowls each. And Peyton just told America he's going to "drink a lot of Budweiser tonight". On a day when TV ads sell for five million bucks a pop, that's surely the greatest free plug any long-time Super Bowl sponsor ever got.
Eli is FIRED UP! https://t.co/K6eRBqKezH— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) February 8, 2016