SANTA CLARA, Calif. — His magnetic smile never materialized.
On the biggest stage of his young NFL career, Cam Newton never seemed like himself.
Instead, the typically easy-going, fun-loving Panthers quarterback appeared rattled by the relentless pressure of Denver’s defense. On Sunday night at Levi Stadium, the dancing was an afterthought.
The “Dab” was finally put to rest in Super Bowl 50 and so were the Panthers’ hopes of winning the Lombardi Trophy.
The Panthers lost, 24-10, to the Broncos.
Newton, known best for mimicking “Superman” on the field, looked nothing like his 2015 MVP self. Perhaps it was the magnitude of the moment. Or, better yet, the dominating performance by Denver’s defense.
Newton and his Panthers were trying to win the first Super Bowl in franchise history. Instead, they were lamenting the missed opportunities and mistakes that thwarted their efforts from the opening kick.
Newton was sacked seven times, completed just 18 of 41 passes and finished without a touchdown throw or a score of his own.
His own miscues helped dig an early 10-0 hole for the Panthers, who were favored to beat the Broncos. Instead, Newton struggled so did his counterpart, Peyton Manning, the elder statesman of the NFL. But Newton’s errors proved to be far more costly.
He appeared rattled from the get-go, throwing wildly-high and errant throws to his receivers and taking two first-quarter sacks. Worse, one of those quarterback hits came on a blindside blow by Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller and resulted in a fumble-recovery touchdown by defensive end Malik Jackson.
After a shaky first quarter, however, the Panthers’ playmaker used his legs to elude the Broncos’ defenders and get Carolina back in the game in the second quarter.
On the first drive of the quarter, Newton scrambled for 12 yards and later connected with Greg Olsen on a 19-yard completion. Soon after, the Panthers took advantage of a face-mask penalty on Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib and running back Jonathan Stewart leaped into the end zone for a 1-yard score.
His touchdown pulled the Broncos to within 10-7. But the mistakes kept piling up for Newton and the Panthers, who had shocked the football world by finishing the regular season 15-1.