SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Malik Jackson recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown and Jordan Norwood set up another Denver score with the longest punt return in Super Bowl history and the Broncos took a 13-7 halftime lead over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
The big plays from the defense and special teams helped Peyton Manning break out to the lead in what could be the final game of his career.
Manning led a field-goal drive to open the game, but Denver did not get a first down on its next four drives. Manning was just 9 for 16 for 76 yards and an interception in the half.
Cam Newton overcame a jittery start to lead a touchdown drive in the second quarter for Carolina, but the Panthers lost two fumbles in the first half and trailed at halftime for just the third time all season.
The defenses dominated with three turnovers, only 257 combined yards of offense and nine of 15 drives ending without a first down.
The Broncos got off to a fast start with Manning completing four passes for 47 yards on the opening drive to set up a 34-yard field goal by Brandon McManus.
The Panthers were much shakier with Newton badly overthrowing his first pass, Jerricho Cotchery dropping a key pass and Newton getting sacked by Von Miller and fumbling on Carolina’s second drive.
Jackson recovered in the end zone to put Denver up 10-0 midway through the first quarter for the first fumble recovery for a touchdown in the Super Bowl since James Washington had one for Dallas in 1994 against Buffalo.
While that is usually a good omen, the only teams to lose a Super Bowl when leading by 10 points after one quarter were the Broncos in 1988 to Washington, Manning’s Colts in 2010 to New Orleans.
Newton settled down in the second quarter, completing a 20-yard pass to Philly Brown and scrambling twice for 23 yards to drive Carolina down the field. He then completed a 19-yard pass to Greg Olsen on third-and-1 and Jonathan Stewart dove in from the 1 to cut the lead to 10-7.
Stewart left the game twice with an ankle injury and is questionable to return.
Norwood’s 61-yard punt return on a play where it appeared like the Panthers defenders thought he called a fair catch set up McManus’ second field goal that made it 13-7. The Broncos could have had more, but Louis Vasquez was called for holding to negate a fourth-down conversion and leading to the field goal.
The teams then traded turnovers with Mike Tolbert losing a fumble for Carolina and Manning getting intercepted by defensive lineman Kony Ealy with Denver in position for another score.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.