The last time the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos played each other was also the last season the Panthers didn’t make the playoffs – 2012.
By NFL standards, that was a long time, but it was recent enough that the starting quarterbacks in that game will be the same as the starting ones on Sunday.
Peyton Manning easily won the duel with Cam Newton that day as Denver blasted the Panthers 36-14 in Charlotte. Panthers coach Ron Rivera would fire special teams coach Brian Murphy a couple of days later after the Panthers gave up a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Five other things from that game that the Panthers wouldn’t want to repeat:
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1 Carolina was 0-for-12 on third-down conversions.
2 Newton not only gave up a safety when he took a sack, but he also threw a pick-six interception.
3 Manning threw for 301 yards, completing 27 of 38 without an interception.
4 Carolina rushed for only 52 yards as a team (behind an offensive line that started five players who aren’t on the active roster right now).
5 I wrote in my column about that game that Von Miller was “surgically attached” to Newton for most of the Panthers’ offensive series. After Miller sacked Newton during the game, he also mocked the quarterback’s “Superman” pose.
Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula said that one of the best things Newton does now is to rely more on his teammates. “He’s not trying to win the game by himself,” Shula said. “He’s pushing the buttons around him and letting those guys do their jobs, too. He understands that now more than he ever has.”
Super Bowl 60 forecast: Former quarterback Boomer Esiason was asked Monday what he thought Super Bowl 60 would look like.
“Cam Newton will be in Super Bowl 60, and it will be his last,” Esiason predicted. “Cam Newton will be riding off into the sunset.”
In 2026, when Super Bowl 60 is scheduled to be played, Newton would be 36.