How Von Miller and Denver's pass rush won Super Bowl 50
Super Bowl 50 unfolded almost exactly as we predicted at PFF — a-low scoring affair that was determined by the defenses. The Broncos’ defense was good enough to keep the game close, and they came up with enough turnovers to not only limit the Panthers, but jump out to a lead and ultimately overcome the odds to win.
Once again outside linebacker Von Miller proved to be one of the league’s best defensive players, and as we pointed to all week, was simply too much to handle for Panthers right tackle Mike Remmers.
Miller was huge throughout the game, ending up its MVP as well as earning a PFF grade of +6.7, thanks to notching three sacks, five hurries and two forced fumbles.
Part of the problem of limiting the Broncos’ pass rush is that they are so deep and varied that you can’t easily take players from any one spot to help out elsewhere. If you give Miller extra attention all game, then DeMarcus Ware will hurt you — or Malik Jackson, or Derek Wolfe, or Shaquil Barrett, or the blitz … you get the idea.
There were occasions in the game, however, when the Panthers could have dedicated extra attention to Miller, and chose not to. These were big errors that cost them dearly.
It appeared as though the Panthers underestimated the Broncos pass rush coming in. They knew it would be good, but they hadn’t budgeted for the idea that it was so good they really should have changed some things on offense and made adjustments to try and limit it.
Here the Panthers lined up pre-snap with an empty backfield, but both Greg Olsen and Mike Tolbert tight to the formation in perfect position to chip the Broncos edge rushers before releasing into a pattern. Olsen stayed in looking for work before sliding out and presenting himself as a receiving option, but Tolbert gave Miller a free run at Remmers — which all throughout the game resulted in bad things happening for the Panthers.
Miller was around the right tackle and to the quarterback in an instant, and instead of just laying a big hit, went for the ball, forcing a fumble that the Broncos recovered for a touchdown.
The Panthers linemen were asked to do an awful lot in this game against the league’s best pass rush, and it was too much for them to cope with. Some of these plays were inevitable, but plays like this could have been avoided had Tolbert chipped before releasing as he was in position to do. These small adjustments are the difference between winning and losing Super Bowls.
Miller was once again sensational in the playoffs, and not just as a pass-rusher. Early in the third quarter he was tasked with running down the sideline on a double move with a wide receiver from the slot, breaking up a pass he had no business being anywhere near.
With Miller entering free agency, the price to lock him up might have just increased significantly. He is a Super Bowl champion and a Super Bowl MVP, and he was biggest difference-maker in this game.