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Looking Back Broncos: The Broncos road to victory in Super Bowl 50

Pop Quiz: What was the most memorable game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers? Congratulations! You passed! Here's a look back at the Broncos march to seize the Lombardi trophy in Super Bowl 50.

Garrett Reid-USA TODAY Sports

2015 was a year that no Broncos fan will forget. It was the league's golden anniversary and Peyton Manning's last under center. There were wins, losses, a benching, overtime craziness, more losses, another benching, playoff wins, an AFC Championship, a Super Bowl Championship and a pouty Cam Newton. Mile High Report was there every step of the way. It's time to look back at the pivotal moments that made the Broncos 2015 Super Bowl season special.


By the time the final whistle sounded against Green Bay in week 8, the Denver found themselves with an impressive 7-0 record.  Peyton manning looked like his old self in the 29-10 victory.

Peyton Manning had his best game of 2015, that late interception notwithstanding, as he connected with tight ends over the middle and receivers deep in an offense that had shades of 2012-2014. It was no-huddle and no mercy, and matched a defense that had been playing with none all season.

The Broncos defense held Aaron Rodgers to 77 passing yards, the lowest total of his career, to improve to 7-0. No Fly Zone = Orange Crush 2.0 = perfect record.

With the game pretty much put away, Manning did throw an interception, a blemish on an otherwise wonderful night. C.J. Anderson had the three biggest runs of his year so far, and Demaryius Thomas did NOT drop a football. Amazing what happens to Peyton when he has a running game and receivers that catch the ball, right?

The Broncos improved to 7-0 by doing something no other team in the NFL has done this year - beating a team with six wins. And they did it in dominant fashion.

Then, the wheels fell off the bus in a week 9 loss against Indianapolis, 27-24. Although the score was close, it was an aggravating game to watch.

Playing at home and fired up to save their season, Luck and the Colts looked like a drastically different group of players from the week before.

Unfortunately, so did the Broncos.

The defense got picked apart all night long by Luck and T.Y. Hilton who connected just five times but always with big yardage, averaging 16.4 yards per catch. And when Frank Gore wasn't running past our defense, which he did 28 times for 83 yards, Luck scrambled around it six times for 34 yards.

Manning, still three yards shy of the NFL passing record, salvaged his QB rating from the first half, ending with statistics almost identical to Luck's - 21 of 36 for 281 yards, two touchdowns and an average pass distance of more than 10 yards with all five of his targets.

What seemed less disappointing than not getting the NFL passing record at the time, Manning would appear on the injury report with a foot injury going into the Kansas City Chief's game the following week.

Peyton downplayed his foot injury earlier in the week.

"I feel good," Manning said Wednesday. "I've got to get a little treatment—that's the day-to-day. It's kind of that time of year where you have different things, like all players. I made some progress today and it'll hopefully get a little better tomorrow."

Who's not sore during—what week is this? Nine, 10?

"Who's not sore during—what week is this? Nine, 10?" Manning added. "You have natural soreness, but [I will] get some treatment on it and it'll hopefully get a little better tomorrow."

The good news is that in week 10, Peyton Manning would become the all-time passing leader in the National Football League.

Peyton Manning etched his name into NFL record books again Sunday, adding another accolade to a career full of them. After passing for three yards Sunday vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, the Denver Broncos quarterback officially broke the NFL record for most passing yards, previously held by Brett Favre (71,838 yards).

The bad news was that the future hall of fame quarterback was benched due to injury and poor play. The Broncos would lose to the resurgent Chiefs, 13-29, and Denver's grip on the AFC West didn't look so sure-handed.

Manning threw three interceptions in the first half in the Broncos' Week 10 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, then another in the second half. He was sacked twice as the Broncos mustered all of 40 yards and failed to score a point with two minutes left in the first half. The Broncos trailed the Chiefs 22-0. Peyton's passer rating?


(That was in the first half. Manning returned to the world of the positive passer ratings, then threw another interception and had a zero passer rating again.)

Brock Osweiler would take the Broncos reins and notch a respectable 4-2 record going into week 17 against the San Diego Chargers. With Denver struggling on offense, coach Kubiak went with the proven veteran.

With Peyton Manning active for the first time since November, Brock Osweiler led the Broncos as starting quarterback and looked good, despite a number of offensive mishaps. Yet it was still Manning who came off the bench. Did the Broncos need a spark? Did Brock deserve to be benched? Maybe and no, respectively, but off the bench Manning came, and the Broncos responded with touchdowns instead of turnovers.

With the 27-20 victory over the Chargers, the Denver Broncos won the AFC West for the 5th year in a row and clinched a first round bye in the playoffs. After a well deserved week off, the Broncos welcomed the Pittsburgh Steelers to Mile High. Due to a spate of Steeler injuries, Las Vegas opened up with the Broncos as favorites.

The Denver Broncos opened as 2.5-point favorites over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional Round of the 2015-2016 NFL playoffs, but that line has moved in the Broncos' direction. According to the latest NFL odds, Peyton Manning and the Broncos are now 6.5-point favorites.

They say you should never bet with your heart, but if you did, you came out on top. Although, it felt a lot less comfortable than the 23-16 score would suggest.

The Denver Broncos nearly dropped the ball in the Divisional Round Sunday, literally and figuratively. Seven dropped passes from at least five different targets had Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense flustered; it was all Denver's defense and special teams could do to keep the Broncos in the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Yet, as they so often have in 2015, the Broncos came alive in the 4th quarter. After trailing for much of the low-scoring game, Bradley Roby forced a fumble that DeMarcus Ware recovered. Manning then led a 13-play, 65-yard, 6:52 drive for the Broncos' only touchdown of the game and a Denver 23-16 victory. Manning and the Broncos scored 14 unanswered points in the second half.

During Brock Osweilers' run as starting quarterback for the Broncos the biggest feather in his cap was the Broncos overtime defeat of the New England Patriots at home in the snow. Now, with Peyton Manning at the helm in the AFC Championship game, the Broncos would face New England again with the Super Bowl on the line. As like most things these days, it didn't work out in Tom Brady's favor.

Congratulations, Denver Broncos fans - we're going to the Super Bowl!

The 17th matchup between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning was another memorable one, competitive through four quarters and full of big plays. What it lacked was big-play throws from these big-name QBs, with both signal-callers stifled against fierce defenses behind shaky offensive lines.

Three times in the 4th quarter, Brady tried to execute a comeback against Denver's "No Fly Zone" defense. Three times in the 4th quarter, he was denied: on 4th and 1, and 4th and 6, and during the Patriots' two-point attempt after Rob Gronkowski made Gronk-like unbelievable plays. Bradley Roby intercepted Brady's two-point attempt and the Broncos are going to the Super Bowl!

Vegas immediately favored the Panthers as Super Bowl champions.

Super Bowl 50 is two weeks away, but the NFC Championship Game hadn't even concluded before sportsbooks started taking bets. The Denver Broncos will have to resume the underdog role as they prepare to face the Carolina Panthers.

...and the disrespect flowed in, especially from Boston. MHR's Scotty Payne covered Dan Shaughnessy's offensive response to the Patriots loss. Doesn't Shaughnessy look like an (even bigger) ass now?

Despite the Broncos effectively handling the Pats' star quarterback and slowing down their "great offense," Shaughnessy, in typical Bostonian fashion, continues to be disrespectful to the Broncos.

To read Shaugnessy's crap-fest of an article, click here. It's excerpted below.

That's what makes Sunday's loss so painful. Is there any Patriot fan who thinks the Pats would have lost Sunday's game if it had been played in Foxborough? Of course not. The Broncos are not very good. They are likely to be cannon fodder for the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara. The Broncos look like the same Broncos who were smoked by the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, N.J.

The Patriots should be playing in Super Bowl 50. They should have stayed the course and put themselves at Gillette for the entire AFC tournament. But they chose another path. And now they are done. What a waste.

...with the game inching closer, minor details were being determined. Like which jersey color the Broncos would wear.

Some wanted the Broncos to wear orange.

They wanted Denver to finally win a Super Bowl in the color that defines this team. Orange is, after all, Denver's identity. They didn't care that the Broncos are 0-4 when they wear orange in the Super Bowl. They wanted that streak to end in the Bay Area.

Alas, the Broncos will wear white. For what's it worth, they are 1-1 in white and won their last Lombardi Trophy in this color.

The line in Vegas moved a little further against the Broncos.

The Denver Broncos opened as 4.5 point underdogs, and are currently favored to lose by 6 points. 94% of people placing bets on the Super Bowl are betting that the Carolina Panthers are going to win.

The night before the game, Peyton Manning got emotional during team meeting.

According to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and linebacker DeMarcus Ware addressed the team Saturday Night during their team meeting and became very emotional.

Team President Joe Ellis told Sal that "both were very emotional and near tears,"

...They have said all week that they want to win this one for Peyton and Ware. This will more than likely be Manning's final game, and this is Ware's first Super Bowl appearance in his Hall Of Fame career (and who knows if he is thinking about retirement or not?).

The Broncos have to win this. Throw out the stats, the advanced metrics and all the other stuff. The Broncos will be an inspired football team. They will go out there and play the best game of the season and win this Super Bowl not only for them, but for their teammates.

Then... It was game time. Anticipation among MHR members and all fans was palpable in the live thread.

In the NFL's golden game, Super Bowl 50, there is a heavily favored Carolina Panthers team getting all of the love from the "experts" and the Denver Broncos who have become America's favorite sentimental underdog. The narrative sounds a lot like Super Bowl 32, if you ask me.

Prediction: Broncos 17, Panthers 13

What is your prediction, Broncos Country?

Then, as quick as it began, it was over. Denver won, 24-10. The Broncos were Super Bowl 50 Champions.

Former Managing Editor Kyle Montgomery was the first to report it.

Take a bow, Denver Broncos! You've just won Super Bowl 50.

...then Pete Baron's excitement got the best of him before giving a well deserved shout-out to Bronco Mike.

Sorry for this format, but I'm too elated to think! WE ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS! STOP GIVING US PRAISE CBS, ESPN, NFLN, cause you sure as S**t didn't give us any leading up to this game! Take that crow, and shove it up all your collective asses!

...A special shout-out to MHR's fallen brother Bronco Mike. Gone but not forgotten, we're a Mile High with you our friend.

Scotty Payne reported the game's MVP.

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has won the Super Bowl 50 MVP award after an outstanding performance tonight.

This time, it was a Super Bowl victory for Pat Bowlen.

After Super Bowl XXXII, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen held up the Lombardi Trophy and exclaimed, "This one's for John!"

After Super Bowl XXXIII, the owner echoed the sentiment: "This one's for YOU!"

Now, after Super Bowl 50, with Bowlen fighting the good fight against Alzheimer's Disease, it was Elway's turn to make the exclamation.

This one's for Pat!

Folks, the Mile High Report staff was with you every step of the way during the Denver Broncos historic Super Bowl run of 2015. With 2016 getting started in mere days, we are all excited to do it all over again.  Now, let's go get another one.