Quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 of the Denver Broncos leaves the field after defeating the San Diego Chargers on January 3, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated
the Chargers 27-20. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) (Photo: Doug Pensinger, 2016 Getty Images)
ENGLEWOOD—It may turn out Peyton Manning’s final moment with the Denver Broncos came as the clock reached 0:00 of Super Bowl 50.
A wise guy would say Manning and his offense shut it down with 8:22 left in the third quarter.
Brandon McManus had just kicked his third field goal at that point to give the Broncos a 16-7 lead.
And then Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak and Manning went into the football version of the four-corner offense.
“I wouldn’t say that was by choice,” Kubiak said at his joint season-ending press conference Tuesday morning with general manager John Elway. “We weren’t trying to do that. We would have liked to have kept going and put a lot of points on the board. I think we were playing smart. We felt like we had the field position battle won. Our kicking game was very, very good. Up two scores against our defense—really tough to come by.
The Broncos ran the ball with Ronnie Hillman on third-and-17 from their own 13 yard line with 3:58 remaining in the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, C.J. Anderson got the ball on second-and-15 from the Carolina 42.
On the next play, Manning was stripped sacked, a turnover that helped Carolina close to 16-10 with 10:21 remaining.
“I got really concerned right there,’’ Kubiak said. “I mean, I don’t think we had any plans on being nonaggressive, but we also knew that our defense gave us a heck of a chance to win this championship, so we tried to stay true to that.”
With 7:07 remaining, and the score still 16-10, the Broncos ran Hillman off right tackle, Anderson off left tackle and, on third-and-9, ran Anderson off right guard.
Which was a good call because Britton Colquitt followed with a 48-yard punt that flew out of bounds with no chance of a return.
In the final 1 ½ quarters of the game, Manning was 2 of 4 for 18 yards and was sacked three times. There were 15 running plays in that span.
Perfect. The Broncos won, 24-10.
Manning said following the parade Tuesday that he and a bunch of teammates were going out to dinner on Tuesday night. Starting Wednesday, the Broncos’ players, coaches and executives will be on vacation.
Elway and Kubiak will return to work in time for the NFL scouting combine that begins Feb. 22, or two weeks from the parade.
It will be during the combine that the Broncos are expected to get serious in attempting to negotiate contract extensions for quarterback Brock Osweiler and defensive end Malik Jackson.
Those two are the team’s most immediate contract priorities as it is certain to slap Von Miller with a franchise tag between Feb. 16 and March 1.
Before giving way to Elway and Kubiak at their press conference Tuesday, Broncos’ chief executive officer Joe Ellis touched on a myriad of subjects, most notably owner Pat Bowlen, who has Alzheimer’s and stayed home to watch the Super Bowl.
“He would have said, ‘If you were surprised by the outcome (Sunday), you shouldn’t have been,’’’ Ellis said. “He would have recognized the great confidence, preparation and everything that Gary and his staff did to get this team ready to play. That victory that we achieved—that great Super Bowl victory—would not have surprised him and he would have told you that it shouldn’t have surprised you either.’’