I don't think Newton was tired per se, but what the Broncos were able to do with their pass rush no doubt took a toll. Unfortunately, the Panthers' top-ranked offense had "one of those games" where it seemed like anything that could go wrong did go wrong, but Denver deserves a lot of credit for that.
If you watched the AFC Championship, you saw the Broncos have the same impact on Tom Brady. There is nothing that will derail an offense more than pressure on the quarterback, and a relentless attack like the Broncos put together can mentally tire a quarterback, making him sense pressure sometimes even when it's not there. Add to it that the Panthers weren't able to keep Denver's pass rush honest by mounting enough of a running game, and you see the result.
I just want everybody to leave Cam alone. He just lost his first Super Bowl. – Davien in Bennettsville, S.C.
While I agree, that's simply not the world we live in. I had a friend who isn't a big sports fan offer an interesting perceptive: Put yourself in the shoes of Newton by imagining what it would feel like to be that close to your ultimate dream in life, only to fall just short of it. Then, mere moments later, have a bunch of virtual strangers in your face asking you how you feel and what went wrong. How would you handle it?
Yes, plenty of athletes do manage to put on a happy face figuratively speaking and answer questions in just such a moment, but still there are two things that rub me wrong about the storyline. First, many in the media often complain that pro athletes are so programmed in their responses and call for athletes to reveal more of their true selves. But then when someone does take an honest approach like Newton, he gets roundly criticized? You can't have it both ways. Also, it bothers me to put Newton in the crosshairs while players dealing with much more serious matters off the field face little criticism. Should Newton's storyline really be on SportsCenter ahead of Denver's parade?
Again, though, it's the world we live in, for better or worse.
Can you tell the Panthers we all still love them? Sad they did not win SB 50 - but they are gentlemen, amazing human beings, and have brought two states together. They are incredible athletes and contributors to the community. – Karen in Arden, N.C.
I am deaf and have cerebral palsy. I've been a huge fan of Panthers since 1995. I want to write Jerry Richardson and thank him and his players for a great season. I was sad and upset that they lost the Super Bowl, but I am so proud of them for the season they had. – Thomas in Columbus, Ohio
I just wanted to share a sampling of the supportive comments I've received since the Super Bowl setback. It was a fun ride that no one wanted to see come to such an abrupt halt.
Where can I find the Digital 360 photo taken at the NFC Championship game? – Rich in Indian Land, S.C.
The victory over the Arizona Cardinals in the first NFC title game hosted by the Panthers was one of the season's great moments, and the "FanCam" constitutes one of the cooler images of the season.
You can still check it out here and see if you can spot yourself if you happened to be in attendance on that awesome night.
What is with all the facial hair? Never seen so many team members with beards. – Danny in Salisbury, N.C.
The origin of "playoff beards" on pro sports teams is generally traced to the 1980 New York Islanders on the NHL, though it should be noted that tennis great Bjorn Borg had a tradition in the 1970s of not shaving at Wimbledon.
I don't really have anything else for you. Just wanted an excuse to embed this tweet:
Greg Olsen(@gregolsen88) February 9, 2016