The matchup that a lot of observers circled as being a key in Super Bowl 50 turned out to be a mismatch, which is unfortunate for the Carolina Panthers.
Panthers right tackle Mike Remmers allowed Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller to get past him for a pair of strip-sacks of Cam Newton on Sunday – one that started the Broncos’ scoring and the other ending it.
They were the biggest plays in the Broncos’ 24-10 win, resulting in 14 points for Denver on a night when Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning failed to move the ball much against the Panthers’ defense.
Defensive end Malik Jackson recovered Newton’s first fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. Broncos safety T.J. Ward scooped up Newton’s second fumble and returned it to the Carolina 4, setting up their only offensive touchdown.
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The game-changing sacks earned Miller MVP honors, and left Remmers as the goat.
“I feel pretty (crappy) right now,” he said.
Backup tight end Ed Dickson came to Remmers’ defense, saying the Panthers left their tackles “out to dry” by not giving them enough help with the tight ends and running backs.
But fullback Mike Tolbert said the Broncos’ game plan made it hard to double-team edge-rushers DeMarcus Ware and Miller, who combined for 4.5 of Denver’s seven sacks.
Tolbert said Denver often blitzed a defender up the middle, forcing the Panthers’ running backs to pick up that blitzer and leaving the tackles on an island.
Panthers left tackle Michael Oher, who was lined up against Ware, said the Broncos benefited from Carolina’s snap count in a stadium where the Denver fans outnumbered the Panthers’.
The crowd noise also resulted in five pre-snap penalties for the Panthers’ offense: Oher (twice), Remmers and Dickson had false-start penalties, and Newton was whistled for delay of game.
Remmers said the silent count allowed the Denver edge rushers to anticipate the snap, much like the Broncos did in the AFC Championship Game when they hit Patriots quarterback Tom Brady 17 times.
“They had a great get-off,” Remmers said. “They did a good job of getting off on the snap count and something I’m going to look to improve on this year.”
Ware said Miller’s awareness and knack for getting off the ball make him a special player.
“Twice this game he got the strip-sack. That’s like a touchdown for a defensive end, pass rusher-type guy,” Ware said. “He did it twice. Those are big plays by him.”
Plays that Remmers will remember for a long time.
Remmers stood at his locker for about 10 minutes and answered questions, including one by a reporter asking Remmers to assess his performance.
“I’m not very happy with it,” he said. “Obviously it doesn’t feel really good.”