SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- A reborn Orange Crush might have sent Peyton Manning into retirement with a Super ending to his career.
He wasn't the star of Super Bowl 50 - game MVP Miller seemingly was everywhere on every Carolina play -- but Manning really hasn't been the headliner in this injury-shortened season.
"This game was much like this season has been, testing our toughness, our resiliency, our unselfishness," he said. "It's only fitting that it turned out that way."
Emulating his Broncos boss, John Elway, the 39-year-old Manning can ride off with the Lombardi Trophy after leading Denver to its third NFL title, first since 1999 -- when Elway was the quarterback.
"I'll take some time to reflect," Manning said when asked if this is the end. "I got a couple priorities first. I'm going to go kiss my wife and my kids. ... I'm going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight."
Denver's suffocating defense kept Newton jittery all day. Despite wearing gold shoes before the golden Super Bowl, Newton couldn't finish off a dynamic season in which he was the league's MVP. Miller twice stripped him, once for a touchdown, the second time setting up a clinching TD. Denver's top-ranked defense, the one that ran roughshod over Tom Brady in the AFC championship, simply wouldn't let Newton get comfortable.
Carolina led the league with 500 points but was held to its fewest of the year, and Denver set an ignominious mark with 194 yards gained, the fewest for a Super Bowl winner.
Manning finished 13 for 23 for 141 yards against a strong Carolina (17-2) defense that just couldn't match Miller and company.
"I feel very, very grateful," Manning said. ... "Obviously, it's very special to cap it off with a Super Bowl championship."
"It feels great," said Miller, who had six tackles, 2 1-2 sacks, two hurries, the two forced fumbles and a pass defensed. "Peyton and DeMarcus and coach Phillips and all the guys that have been deserving their whole, whole career. I did this for them. I put my neck on the line for those guys."
Carolina's Ron Rivera, the Coach of the Year, soon after lost a challenge on a pass to Jerricho Cotchery, and it was a key decision. Two plays later, Miller burst through and didn't even go for the sack. He reached directly for the ball, stripping it from Newton. It rolled to the goal line, where Malik Jackson pounced on it for a 10-0 lead.
The only time Newton produced came on a 73-yard drive to make it 10-7. Jonathan Stewart, back from hurting his right foot earlier, dived in from the 1.
Sloppiness -- and strong defense - marked the rest of the game.
The first half ended 13-7 after McManus made a 33-yarder that followed the longest punt return in Super Bowl history. Brad Nortman's kick from his 12 was barely deflected, and the ball fluttered to Jordan Norwood. One Panther bumped Norwood, who didn't call for a fair catch. Escorted by a bevy of blockers, he appeared headed for a touchdown until DE Mario Addison chased him down at the Carolina 14, a 61-yard jaunt.
Carolina's Graham Gano hit the right upright on a 44-yard field goal attempt to open the second half. Then his counterpart, McManus, made his 10th in as many postseason tries for a 16-7 margin. The kicker was rescuing Denver's inept short-yardage offense, just as he did in a playoff win over Pittsburgh when he made five field goals.
Gano made a 39-yarder with 10:21 remaining. At 16-10, the 50th Super Bowl came down to Denver's defense finishing it off.
"We dropped balls," said Newton, slouched in a chair with little interest in explaining the outcome. "We turned the ball over. We gave up sacks. We threw errant passes. That's it."
Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press