The Carolina Panthers are to face the Denver Broncos in the 50th edition of the Super Bowl. Their conference-final victories set up a contest that pits the NFL's most prolific offense against its stingiest defense.
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (pictured above,right) is set to become the oldest starting QB in the history of the Super Bowl after his team edged Tom Brady's New England Patriots 20-18 in the AFC championship game on Sunday.
Much of the credit for Denver's victory, went to the Broncos' defense, the best in the NFL. The contest wasn't settled until Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby picked off a Tom Brady pass on a 2-point convert attempt that would have tied the game with 12 seconds left. The Broncos then recovered the Patriots' onside kick and ran down the clock.
When the 39-year-old Manning takes to the field in San Francisco for Super Bowl 50 on February 7, he will surpass current Broncos general manager John Elway as the oldest quarterback to lead a team in the NFL's championship game.
Top defense vs. top offense
The Super Bowl will also feature the league's most prolific offense, led by quarterback Cam Newton, who ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more, as his Carolina Panthers crushed the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 in the NFC championship game.
This will be Newton's first appearance in the Super Bowl and the first for the Panthers since they lost to the Patriots in 2004..
Apart from Newton's performance, the Panthers, who were up 17-0 by the end of the first quarter, also profited from seven Arizona turnovers.
"We just wanted to start fast, be efficient and keep our hands on the ball," Newton said afterwards."We won as a team. We came out here and fought our tails off, and we did what a lot of people said we couldn't do."
Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, who committed six of those seven turnovers, including four interceptions, said his team simply failed to respond to the Panthers' early lead.
"They jumped out early and got on top of us. We dug ourselves a hole and never came close to coming out of it," he said.
pfd/ftm (AFP, AP, Reuters)