"Denver did some really good things on the defensive side of the ball and made some plays," head coach Ron Rivera said. "Pass rush was strong for them, and unfortunately we didn't capitalize when we got the ball down near the red zone."
Carolina, despite all its uncharacteristic turnovers and penalties, had the ball twice trailing 16-10 in the fourth quarter.
The first time, the Panthers went three-and-out. The second time, on third-and-9, quarterback
"So many times things just wouldn’t go right and then we’d find our rhythm, but we couldn’t sustain it," tight end
Carolina produced 315 total yards compared Denver’s 194. The Panthers had 21 first downs compared to Denver’s 11. But those stats were irrelevant in determining the outcome.
Not only did the Broncos defense produce four takeaways and seven sacks, they scored one of the game’s three touchdowns.
After Denver opened the scoring with a 34-yard field goal, Miller strip-sacked Newton, and defensive end Malik Jackson made the recovery in the end zone.
Thanks to that defensive touchdown, the Broncos never trailed.
The game took a strange turn late in the first half. The Panthers’ punt coverage team mistakenly thought Denver returner Jordan Norwood was calling for a fair catch, and that hesitation allowed him to escape down the sideline for a 61-yard return. Defensive end
The Broncos were forced to settle for a 33-yard field, extending their lead to 13-7.
Carolina looked primed to answer as fullback
Three plays later, defensive end
After the teams exchanged three-and-outs, the Panthers had a chance to cut into the deficit, taking over at their own 19-yard line with 1:55 remaining in the half. The Panthers advanced past midfield, but linebacker DeMarcus Ware sacked Newton to run out the clock.
"We had plenty of opportunities to take control of the game and we couldn’t do it," center
The Panthers took the ball into Denver territory with the opening possession of the second half, but no points came of it after
The Broncos then extended their lead to 16-7 with a 30-yard field goal with 8:18 remaining in the third quarter.
Again, Carolina looked ready to answer, but again the Panthers were turned away. Newton’s pass over the middle into the red zone for wide receiver
"Their defense got more turnovers than we did, and that was a huge difference," defensive tackle